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HUNTINGTON — A Hurricane, West Virginia, man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last Tuesday, April 26, in one of two drive-by shooting deaths in 2020.

Judge Paul T. Farrell sentenced Justin Groff, 31, to 40 years in prison for the murder of a woman in Cabell County.

Groff pleaded guilty to murdering Toni Lynn Cremeans, admitting to shooting at Cremeans with intent to kill her.

“No matter what happens today, will not bring my daughter back,” Cremeans’ father, Anthony Czerpak, said last Tuesday. “Your actions brought devastation to this family. You have taken a daughter, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, a cousin ... She would do anything for anyone, no questions asked.”

Cremeans’ daughter, Kristie Goble, also spoke at the plea hearing.

“When Justin murdered my mother, he turned my whole world upside down. I feel like I’m living a nightmare. He took the one person I went to for everything from me. Since the murder, I have a hard time focusing and feel like I’m disconnected from my family and friends,” Goble said. “I had to explain to my oldest daughter what happened, which was the hardest thing I have ever done. … I hurt not only for myself, but for my children.”

According to a criminal complaint filed in Cabell County Magistrate Court, West Virginia State Police responded to a shots-fired call in the 200 block of 3rd Street in Culloden about 7:52 p.m. Dec. 11, 2020. They found a blue Lincoln MKZ sedan with Ohio license plates sitting outside the home with gunshot holes in the driver’s side, officers said. Cremeans, who lived at the home, was found fatally shot in the head.

During a search of Cremeans’ phone, authorities found a Facebook Messenger chat conversation between Cremeans and Groff in which the two planned to meet at a nearby business. Video surveillance showed a Chrysler Town and Country minivan at the business along U.S. 60 in Culloden, which a family member identified as being Groff’s, but further conversation between the two showed Cremeans asked Groff to meet her at her home. The van parked behind the victim shortly before the shooting was reported.

Officers spotted Groff’s vehicle at 10:37 a.m. Dec. 12, 2020, along U.S. 60 near Joe’s Branch Road and stopped it. Groff was taken into custody, along with a family member, who told police Groff had left their home before the shooting to visit another family member, the complaint said.

The family member said Groff had come to visit her that morning, but left shortly after. She also said Groff struggled with drugs and occasionally practiced shooting in her backyard, primarily at a tree stump, but she was not aware of where his pistol was.

During a search of Groff’s home, officers located a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol in his bedroom. Forensic testing of the gun showed it matched the weapon used to kill Cremeans, according to the complaint.

In Putnam County, Groff was charged with one count of murder in the death of John Glaspell, who was shot and killed the day before Cremeans.

Around 2:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 2020, Glaspell was shot at multiple times at Maury Village Apartments near Mount Vernon Road in Hurricane. He died at CAMC Teays Valley Hospital in Putnam County.

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