Calhoun man to stand trial after 2 years
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - After two years in jail, a denied guilty plea and an outburst in court, a Calhoun County man will stand trial for his alleged role in the murder of a Roane County man who has been missing since 2006.
William "Seth" Denmark, 25, of Orma appeared Tuesday in Calhoun Circuit Court before Judge David Nibert to enter a Kennedy-Frazier plea, said Barbara Harmon Schamberger, Denmark's attorney.
Under such a plea, the accused typically maintains his or her innocence but enters a plea to minimize penalties.
Nibert told Seth during the proceeding that he felt the family of David Wayne Beach deserved more closure and denied the plea, Schamberger said.
"There are difficulties with some of the evidence in the case," Schamberger said. "The missing boy's family wants answers my client can't provide."
Calhoun Prosecutor Rocky Holmes made a motion for a continuance, but Denmark became angry after hearing the judge deny the plea.
"He said he was tired of this," Schamberger said. "He said, 'I want to take back my plea. I want to go to trial. I'm not going to say I killed my best friend.' "
She said Denmark and Beach were "best friends" and that at one point Denmark's parents wanted to legally adopt Beach.
"They were very close," Schamberger said of her client and the victim. "He was like family to him, and that's what makes this so hard."
Denmark and his parents, William and Jackie Denmark, were arrested in March 2010. Seth was charged then with kidnapping his then-girlfriend, Veronica Cottrill, the only witness in the murder case.
Jackie was charged with aiding and abetting her son in kidnapping Beach. William was charged with conspiring with his son and Beach to shoot another man.
The charges against both parents have since been dropped, Schamberger said.
Seth, however, was charged with Beach's murder in May 2011 and has remained at Central Regional Jail, where he had been lodged since the March 2010 arrest. He remained at the jail as of Wednesday.
Authorities have not located Beach's body.
"I would be angry, too, to sit in jail for almost three years without a trial," Schamberger said. "It's heartbreaking."
Multiple continuances have been filed on both sides, and Seth has gone through three lawyers. Schamberger was hired to represent him when his most recent attorney died.
She said he's been held an excessive amount of time without a trial and she recently filed a motion to suppress evidence seized during the State Police and Roane sheriff's deputies' search of the Denmark property in Calhoun County.
When Beach went missing in 2006, the only lead investigators had was that he likely had been with the Denmarks. Jackie told Roane deputies in May 2006 she did not know Beach's whereabouts.
The missing persons case was reopened in 2010. Authorities searched the Denmarks' Beech Run Road property in February 2010 after Cottrill, Seth's girlfriend, told investigators she was with him when he picked up Beach in Main Street in Spencer. She said they then rode to the Denmark home.
Cottrill told troopers Seth asked Beach to help him dig a large hole. Then Seth and Beach rode off together on a four-wheeler heading for a hill behind the house. Seth later returned alone, showed Cottrill a gun and told her to get a flashlight and come with him.
She got on the back of the four-wheeler with a flashlight and a shovel. Seth drove them to the hill behind the home.
She said when they stopped, she saw Beach lying in a hole.
She said Seth told her to hold the flashlight while he buried Beach and threatened to kill her and her daughter if she refused.
Seth "made proof with his threats by shooting another person, David Wayne Beach, in the head with the gun," troopers wrote in the complaint.
Investigators searched the property, identified in Schamberger's motion as a light blue/gray two-story home, all outbuildings, garages and sheds and the 12-acres surrounding it.
But Schamberger said investigators searched the wrong house, a log cabin located on the same property.
Schamberger's motion asserts the search was illegal and State Police vastly exceeded their authority.
The motion seeks to suppress all evidence recovered at the home, including several weapons and ammunition but no body.
"It's a very curious case," Schamberger said.
Calls to the Calhoun Prosecuting Attorney's Office in Grantsville went unanswered Wednesday.
A trial date was set for Feb. 20 in Calhoun Circuit Court.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4850.