HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Tennis Melvin Maynard, the man accused of gunning down Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum in broad daylight last month, pleaded not guilty in Cabell Circuit Court Wednesday.
Silent tears fell over the cheeks of Rosie Crum, the sheriff's widow, as she watched officers lead Maynard into the courtroom. About two-dozen people, including Maynard's father, Melvin, and brother, Leslie, also attended the proceedings.
Rosie Crum's gaze did not waver when Cabell deputies and State Police led Maynard, still wearing a hospital gown, inside. She watched as he sat at the table with his attorneys, Rich Weston and Glen Conway. He cast a glance back at her from his seat before the hearing began.
Her hand shook as she clutched the hand of her sister, Rena Martin, who sat to her right on the front row bench. Dave Rockel, Williamson police chief and a friend of the late sheriff, sat to her left. Mingo Cpl. Norman Mines, who shot and wounded Maynard, also sat nearby.
Maynard, 37, of Delbarton, is accused of shooting Eugene Crum while the lawman sat in his police SUV eating lunch the afternoon of April 3.
A Mingo County grand jury handed down a three-count indictment last month, charging Maynard with first-degree murder, attempted murder and fleeing. He entered not-guilty pleas to all.
The state Supreme Court appointed Cabell Circuit Judge Paul Farrell to preside over the case.
Maynard's hospitalization and ongoing health problems were the reason for the hearing being held in Cabell County, Mingo Prosecutor C. Michael Sparks said.
"He was treated here and he'll be held here; hospital's only a few minutes away," Sparks said. "This is primarily for his health."
Weston said Maynard was shot seven times. He said Maynard, who has been treated at Cabell Huntington Hospital since the incident, was still hurting more than a month later and was experiencing some drainage problems.
The prosecutor said it was pretty standard for a person to plead not guilty. A tentative trial date was set for Oct. 21 in Mingo County, but the date and the venue could change.
Neither Sparks nor Weston objected to the extended period between the hearing and the trial. Sparks said it would allow plenty of time to prepare.
Weston initially expressed concern over setting a date because he didn't know what testing the prosecutor's office had done and what testing his office would have to do. Sparks said he would provide the defense with any reports it needed.
"When a judge gives me a trial date, I do everything I can to get ready for that day," Weston said.