Jury needs just 10 minutes to debate whether man was repeat offender
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A man who murdered a North Charleston drug dealer and tried to kidnap his wife has had his possible sentence extended because of past crimes.
Garland Lee Murray, 29, of St. Albans was found guilty by a Kanawha jury Tuesday of being a recidivist. Prosecutors sought the action based on the state's "three strikes" rule that allows enhanced sentences for repeat offenders.
Jurors deliberated for only ten minutes before deciding Murray was the same person who was also convicted of crimes in 1998 and 2003. In May, another jury found him guilty of the burglary and murder of Gregory Poole and the attempted kidnapping of his wife, Ebony.
Assistant Prosecutor Rob Schulenberg said Murray had not been sentenced on the May conviction because of the possible recidivist action. He will be sentenced later this month.
In June, Murray filed a motion for a new trial, contending errors were made. But that request was denied.
Schulenberg said Murray faced a possible 15 years to life on the first-degree murder charge, three to 15 years for attempted kidnapping and another one to 15 years for burglary. Prosecutors attached the recidivist action to the kidnapping charge, and now the possible sentence on that conviction is 15 years to life.
"The sole question now is whether the judge will sentence him to concurrent or consecutive sentences," Schulenberg said.
Murray was just 15 when he was charged with unaggravated robbery in 1998, but he was tried as an adult in that case. In July 2002, he was charged with malicious wounding, being a felon in possession of a firearm and wanton endangerment. He was convicted of those crimes and served time in prison and a youthful offender facility.
Circuit Judge Charles King presided over Murray's case and trial and will sentence him.
Murray has a history of being unsatisfied with his court-appointed attorneys, and had asked several times to have them changed. He asked again this week to have Tom Price and Tim Carrico, his third and fourth defenders, removed from his case.
The judge did relieve Carrico, but ordered Price to handle the recidivist case.
The May jury recommended mercy for Murray, meaning he would be eligible to face a parole board in the future. The recidivist conviction doesn't change that, but it extends the time frame.
His projected release date is now February 2018.
Testimony in the May trial revealed that Murray and his brother, Deshawne Taylor, were drug customers of the Pooles. The brothers were attempting to force the couple to show them their "stash house" where most of the drugs and money were kept.
Taylor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kidnap.