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Prosecutor dismisses murder charge

Kanawha Prosecutor Mark Plants has dismissed a first-degree murder charge against David Kinney in a case involving a West Side shooting two years ago.

Kinney, 34, was arrested three months after Poca resident Jeremy Parsons was shot to death in broad daylight as he drove on Virginia Street. His Cadillac ElDorado crashed afterward near the Save-A-Lot store.

But bringing Kinney to trial has been a difficult road for prosecutors. The case has also been a thorn in the side of Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster from the beginning.

Now she has signed the order granting a motion from prosecutors to dismiss the case, and Kinney is a free man.

Plants said he had no choice.

"I'm left with no evidence," he said. "But the victim's family is convinced he is the killer. And so are we."

Plants said Kinney and Parsons had "bad blood" between them. Police thought the murder was sparked by jealousy over a girlfriend. 

What prosecutors hoped to show a jury was a video taken by a security camera at the Auto Zone store. That video shows cars driving past on Virginia Street just prior to the shooting. They believe one was Kinney's and one was Parsons'.

They also wanted a jury to know about 10 mm shell casings found at the murder scene and planned to have a gun expert testify about the unique marks made on them and how it could link Kinney to the ammunition.

Earlier this year, Webster ruled those shell casings couldn't be introduced because of a fluke that occurred at the State Police Crime Lab. As evidence, the casings were erroneously filed under the victim's name, not Kinney's, and when there was trouble locating them, prosecutors said they must be lost.

Defense attorneys accused the state of "gross negligence," and Webster agreed.

The mistake was discovered, however, and the judge was informed. But she was critical of prosecutors over that incident, frequently sparred with them in the courtroom, and would not allow the casings to be part of the state's case any longer.

The West Virginia Supreme Court disagreed, saying Webster overreacted and made a "clear legal error" in quashing the evidence from trial.

In a hearing a few weeks ago, however, Webster indicated she was still unhappy about it. She said that a controversial decision to release Kinney from his home confinement was made "in an attempt to remedy the issue of lost evidence."

She also recently ordered that the gun expert and the video could not be used in a trial.

Plants said that ruling was a big blow, but he was dismissing the case against Kinney without prejudice. That leaves the door open for another indictment in the future.

"If more evidence is found, I can pick it up and prosecute the case again," he said. "We believe there are witnesses to this who just did not want to come forward and cooperate.

"Hopefully, a witness will cooperate and we can move forward with a better case."

Margaret Parsons, the victim's mother, described her son a few months ago as a caring individual who tended to her while she was in a coma and later after she emerged and had to learn to walk again.

She believes Kinney had threatened to kill her son before and finally did. She said she fears the man.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at cherylc@dailymail.com or 304-348-4832.


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