Cops and Courts, Latest News

Chinn found guilty on all charges

A 34-year-old Ohio woman who killed Timothy Pahl, 67, in his home on Stewartstown Road was convicted of the five charges she faced.

On Thursday, after about an hour of deliberation, a jury found Elizabeth Chinn guilty of first-degree felony murder, burglary, grand larceny and two counts of conspiracy.

First-degree murder carries a sentence of life in prison and the jury was also asked to decide if Chinn deserves mercy — meaning she would be eligible for, but not automatically receive, parole after serving 15 years in prison.

Jurors were unable to decide if Chinn would receive mercy after about an hour of deliberating and asked if they could go home and sleep on it. Neither Prosecutor Perri DeChristopher nor defense attorneys Scott Shough or Ryan Shreve objected, and Judge Phillip Gaujot released the jury for the night.

Prior to considering mercy, jurors heard from Pahl’s son, Andrew, who spoke about what his father meant to him and the kind of person he was — a great father, who taught him how to treat people right and was very involved in his church and community.

Andrew spoke about the people who knew his father and attended all four days of the trial, a cross section of neighbors, church members, friends and family. The support illustrated the way Pahl touched everyone he met, Andrew said.

Shough argued Chinn should receive mercy. First-degree murder without mercy is the harshest sentence West Virginia has, and it should be given to people who are cold, heartless and without humanity.

“Elizabeth, for all her faults, for all her wrongs, is not that person. She is not heartless,” he said.

Shough pointed to the raw outpouring of emotion Chinn had when she finally told detectives what happened and her wishing she could take it back as proof that she isn’t heartless.

He told jurors about her childhood in foster homes, juvenile shelters and hospitals. And how those hospital trips continued as an adult, even right up to a few days prior to Pahl’s death. She was in that hospital after a suicide attempt. Chinn has also been diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses.

DeChristopher agreed with Shough that Chinn isn’t totally evil. No one is totally anything, she said.

However, Chinn has had multiple interventions in her life that did not help her modify her behavior. Detective Stephen Currie testified Chinn has been arrested for robbery twice and was convicted of first-degree robbery in one case and a lesser charge in another.

DeChristopher said Chinn’s conditions make her dangerous and pointed out that Chinn could have chosen to stay in the hospital in Clarksburg but, instead, decided to leave and get picked up by two people she barely knew.

Jurors heard three days of testimony from the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department detectives who investigated the case, Pennsylvania State Police troopers who assisted when Chinn fled to their state, forensic scientists who examined evidence, the two people who picked her up from the hospital and went to Pennsylvania with her, a neighbor of Pahl’s and the owner of the security company Pahl used to protect his home.

The following is what happened based on those testimonies.

On April 22, a few days after being released from a psychiatric hospital in Clarksburg, Chinn was staying in a trailer near Pahl’s home with Elizabeth Hartley, who Chinn met in jail, and Glenn Weaver Jr.

During an argument between Weaver and Hartley, Chinn left the trailer and was spotted by one of Pahl’s neighbors traveling through the woods in the direction of his house. She was wearing a blue American Eagle hoodie and carrying a tan American Eagle satchel.

That hoodie and bag were found in Pahl’s basement.

At some point, Chinn entered Pahl’s house, went room to room taking stuff, including handguns, ID cards, credit cards, a passport belonging to Pahl’s dad and jewelry, placing them in bags stolen from Pahl.

Chinn then laid down on Pahl’s bed and when she heard Pahl coming home, hid in a closet in an adjoining room, holding a Ruger .357 stolen from the nightstand next to Pahl’s bed.

Pahl discovered her, a struggle ensued, five shots were fired, two of which struck him and one of which was fatal — though not immediately so, according to the medical examiner.

Security logs from Pahl’s home security system showed Chinn left the house two minutes later, grabbing the keys to Pahl’s 2017 truck from a coat on a coat rack on her way out.

She returned around 6:30 p.m. with Weaver, collected two long guns she couldn’t carry the first time and returned to the trailer. The truck was spray-painted primer gray and the three fled to Pennsylvania.

They were arrested April 25 by the PSP.

Weaver was charged with and pleaded guilty to burglary, grand larceny and two counts of conspiracy in connection to this case. He has yet to be sentenced. Hartley was charged with accessory after the fact and has not resolved her case.

Monongalia County Sheriff Perry Palmer said his department’s detectives and deputies did an excellent job from securing the scene to ultimately securing a conviction through their diligent investigation. He thanked the Pennsylvania State Police for their assistance.

Tweet @WillDean_DP