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Man facing murder charge enters plea agreement

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Rand man has pleaded guilty to the shooting death of another man last year.

Brent Burdette, 20, was arrested after William Cordle III of Rand was shot July 12 on Elaine Drive.

A pre-trial hearing was scheduled Thursday before Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King. Burdette told the judge that, instead, he had entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors. His trial was to begin Monday.

Burdette pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence. In exchange for that plea, prosecutors have asked the judge to grant mercy, which means Burdette will be eligible to go before a parole board after serving 15 years.

Burdette kept his head bowed through most of the proceedings. A large group of the victim's family and friends were seated in the courtroom, and clutched arms and wiped tears during the hearing.

Twice, Burdette asked the judge to stop the hearing. The first time he responded to King's question as to whether he had adequately considered his plea.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" King asked him.

"Your Honor, I don't have any good options out there," Burdette said.

"You do have options," King said.

"Yes, but they don't end very well," Burdette responded.

Prosecutors offered the plea agreement last weekend, but Burdette said the final details weren't discussed until just prior to his hearing. He asked the judge for more time to talk to his attorney, Claude Smith, before proceeding and the two left the courtroom.

Later, while Assistant Prosecutor Don Morris was giving the facts of the crime, Burdette suddenly indicated he needed to leave the courtroom and was escorted out. He returned a few minutes later.

Morris said the shooting of Cordle took place outside a mobile home on Elaine Drive on July 12. He said Burdette told police later that several people in the group that gathered there had guns and had made threats.

Cordle was shot with a sawed-off 20-gauge shotgun, Morris said. He suffered a gunshot to his hand that traveled to his chest and was fatal.

Gun residue was found on Burdette after he was arrested and parts of the shotgun and casings were found inside the mobile home. Fragments removed from Cordle's body appeared to match that weapon, police said.

Morris said a group of the friends met first at a 7-Eleven in Rand, and then went to the mobile home to purchase marijuana. There was talk of a fistfight, and some of the group intended to video it with a cellphone.

At one point, witnesses saw Burdette shoot Cordle and called 911.

Burdette will be sentenced Monday.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at or 304-348-4832.



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