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Jury finds Raysal man guilty of murder in the first degree for December 2017 shooting

WELCH, W.Va. (WVVA) – After almost three hours of deliberation, the jury in the State of West Virginia vs. Charles Kennedy found Kennedy guilty of murder in the first degree.

Over the past several days, jurors have listened to both prosecution and defense make their case about the death of Emily Hatfield.

On Wednesday, the jury heard closing arguments as both sides wrapped up their arguments. Chief prosecuting attorney Emily Miller, opened with remarks about the day Emily Hatfield died and events surrounding that. She told the jury, evidence shows that an incident in May 2016 lead to the killing of Hatfield in December 2017.

Miller also mentioned how Kennedy maintained his statement to Senior Trooper J.A. Tupper about Hatfield wouldn’t harm herself and she hadn’t shot a gun since October. She says Kennedy also had many theories as to how the gun went off. One of those theories being the gun fell off a couch and fired, despite testimony from firearms experts there were no malfunctions with the gun.

Wrapping up her first half of closing argument, Miller concluded on how Kennedy was not impaired at the time of the incident. She says he was able to give directions to the home, medically cleared at Welch Community Hospital, and gave a two hour statement to Senior Trooper J.A. Tupper.

Defense Attorney D.J. Morgan followed Miller with his closing arguments by reminding the jury the state had to prove murder in the first degree beyond reasonable doubt. Morgan called the case “heartbreaking” because of the 911 phone calls and witnessing his wife die.

He continues his arguments that the incident that happened in Wyoming County in May 2016, does not relate to this trial. The incident in Wyoming County also involved the same gun involved in December 2017. Morgan argued that the state could not find a motive, and that Sen. Trp. J.A. Tupper was fishing for information when Kennedy was giving his statement.

Morgan concluded his argument by asking the jury to not be confused by the red herring that is the Wyoming County incident.

As prosecuting attorney, Miller came back and emphasized how the Wyoming County incident was the spark of events that would later transpire. She says Kennedy’s gun was taken in May 2016, kept by Senior Trooper Shifflett until July 2017.

While there were no 911 calls made from May 2016 till December 5, 2017, Miller argued on the fifth a call was made of a woman screaming. A 911 operator later called back and was answered by Kennedy’s mother claiming a child dialed the number on accident.

Miller says he held the gun to her head, because Dr. Mock testified it was a ‘tight contact shot’. She argues that guns do not go magically flying through the air. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” says Miller.

After the jury found Kennedy guilty of charges brought against him, the jury now has to decide if he will receive mercy or not.

That will be decided on Friday.

Ashley Smith

Multimedia Journalist

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