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Charge reduced in cinder block death

Jan. 24, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Allegations that one man used a cinder block to kill another will be tried as a case of voluntary manslaughter -- a downgrade from murder.

A Cabell County grand jury arrived at that decision this month in the case of Shane Ray McCaffrey.

The 25-year-old, of Huntington, initially faced the more serious charge of murder in connection with the August 2012 death of Howard Vernon Lemaster.

The victim, 49, died Aug. 25, days after being hit in the head with a chunk of cinder block Aug. 20 in the backyard of his residence in the 200 block of Adams Avenue.

McCaffrey's indictment was one of several unsealed Wednesday in Cabell Circuit Court.

A Huntington Police lieutenant testified in September that Lemaster's injury ended both a night of heavy drinking and a violent argument between McCaffrey and his brother.

Lemaster, who had been hosting the victim's brother, intervened in their dispute, the lieutenant testified. He grabbed a sledgehammer, held it at his chest and walked toward McCaffrey repeatedly calling upon the defendant to leave.

McCaffrey told police he backed toward the edge of Lemaster's property, picked up the 5-pound chunk of cinder block and threw it, the lieutenant testified.

Defense attorney Matthew Vital in September referred to the more serious allegation as "a stretch." He wasn't surprised with Wednesday's news of a lesser charge, but maintained his client acted in self-defense.

"I don't believe there was any way the state could prove first-degree murder," he said.

In an unrelated case, the grand jury returned an 11-count indictment related to drug trafficking and the Nov. 6, 2012, shooting deaths of Darrell Fugua, 22, and DeVante Penn, 17.

It charges Rocky Hudson Williams, 19, and Thomas Maurice White, 21, both of Huntington, with two counts each of murder.

The victims, both of Detroit, were shot about 10:30 a.m. Nov. 6 at 1939 Foster Ave., a residence described in court documents and testimony as a drug house containing a significant amount of heroin.

Investigators have described it as a drug-related homicide. They lean upon a statement Williams made to police, which indicated he and White went to the residence to get drugs.

The indictment individually charges Williams with seven counts of possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver and a single count of carrying a concealed deadly weapon. The drug charges pertain to 15.5 grams of crack cocaine, 13.3 grams of marijuana and 16 alprazolam pills, along with nine-and-a-half hydrocodone pills. Those incidents occurred June 2 and Sept. 14.

The weapons charge alleges Williams carried a concealed .22-caliber handgun on Sept. 14.

A separate count of the indictment charges co-defendant Charity Dawn Cornell, 35, with having maintained 1939 Foster Ave. as a known drug house on the day of the double shooting.

Follow Curtis Johnson via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD and http://facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD.

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