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First-degree murder, drug charges among September indictments

The third and final Monongalia County Grand Jury of 2022 indicted 150 individuals for a variety of offenses during sessions held Sept. 14-16.  This number is up from the 120 indicted in May.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt, but a formal felony charge issued by a grand jury stating that there is enough evidence that the defendant committed the crime to justify having a trial.

Defendants will be fighting charges ranging from first- and second-degree murder to destruction of property, with the most common charges being related to drugs — primarily fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine — sexual assault or abuse, DUIs and larceny.

“The September term of the Grand Jury reflects the seriousness of the crimes being committed in our community as well as the increased number of cases being charged in our criminal justice system,” said Monongalia County Prosecutor Perri Jo DeChristopher.  “Many cases are attributable to the use, distribution or possession of controlled substances in our county.”

Among those indicted on drug charges are eight co-conspirators — Michael A. Robinson-Brown, Lemonte R. Jackson, Tyrone W. Smith, Cody L. Smouse, Orlando T. Williams, Jaron A. Blackwell, Jakylah Woodruff, and Alexis D. Ward.  All eight defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit a felony drug crime.  Six additional counts amongst members of the group include possession with the intent to deliver and delivery of fentanyl and methamphetamine

A few murder-related charges were also among the indictments, including Arlo W. Romano and Cleotis Epps Jr., the two men accused of killing Matthew D. Moore on or around May 7.  According to the indictment, the duo is charged with one count each of first-degree murder and kidnapping, and two counts each of conspiracy — one for conspiring to kidnap Moore and one for conspiring to murder him.

Tracy Lynn Hamby is charged with murder in the second degree for allegedly shooting Matthew Vaughn on March 3, causing fatal injury that killed him.  The indictment states the shooting was unlawful, felonious, willful, malicious and intentional, but without premeditation.

One count each of attempted murder and malicious assault were the charges against Paul Shaffer, accused of stabbing a man multiple times with a knife with the intent to kill him and with “premeditation and deliberation,” the indictment said.

Former Monongalia County Commission employee, Misty D. Seum, was charged with one count of embezzlement for allegedly converting an estimated $37,658.94 of county funds placed under her care for her own use.

Distribution and/or possession of material of minors in sexually explicit conduct charges were brought against Dakota Boyers who, according to the indictment, was in possession of over 600 images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Other charges made against those who were indicted include arson, child abuse, domestic abuse and assault, wanton endangerment involving a firearm, fraud, robbery, assault, third offense shoplifting and others.

Those indicted will continue their case in Monongalia County Circuit Court as prosecutors work to prove their guilt.

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