Man gets life for murder, kidnap attempt
A St. Albans man was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a Charleston drug dealer and attempting to kidnap his wife.
The family of Gregory Poole, shot to death in a North Charleston yard in April 2010, said they were relieved that it would be at least 30 years before Garland Lee Murray, 29, could be freed.
Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King sentenced Murray to one to 15 years for nighttime burglary, and gave him consecutive life sentences for first-degree murder and attempted kidnapping.
Prosecutors successfully obtained a conviction on a recidivism charge, or the "three-strikes rule" based on Murray's past crimes. That conviction, decided by a jury two weeks ago, made a life sentence on the attempted kidnapping charge possible.
Assistant Prosecutor Rob Schulenberg urged the judge to be harsh with Murray, calling him "ruthless" and "remorseless."
"The public good requires incarceration for as long as possible," Schulenberg said. "Please allow the citizens of this county and state some measure and ability to be free from the threat this defendant poses to them for the next 34 years."
Authorities said Murray and his brother, Deshawne Taylor, were attempting to force the Pooles to reveal where they kept their illegal drugs and cash. The couple were both on Federal parole for drug violations.
But Schulenberg said they didn't deserve what they got.
"Gregory Poole and Ebony Poole were not innocents," he said. "But the penalty for dealing drugs can not be death."
Poole's mother and sister addressed the judge, asking for a long imprisonment for Murray.
"I lost my son, who I'll never see again in this life," said Joanne Poole, the victim's mother. "This is something I'll never get over.
"As a mother, I forgive him for what he did," she said. "I don't want to spend the rest of my life thinking about what he did to my son.
"But I still would like to see him spend the rest of his life in jail," she said.
Poole's sister, Stephanie Ellison of Beckley, said, "He has taken so much from us. If he gets out, the next time it could be your son, or grandson. Please give him as long as you can and teach him a lesson."
She said after the hearing the family was happy with the sentence.
"We're just glad it's over," Ellison said. "It has been a long three years."
Murray's trial and also his sentencing were postponed repeatedly because he kept requesting new court-appointed attorneys. On Wednesday, just prior to his sentencing, he asked again to have his fourth attorney, Tom Price, removed.
The judge denied him.
Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4832.