CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Supreme Court has upheld the murder convictions of two Kanawha County men from two years ago.
Clayton "Gino" Rogers and Timothy Sutherland were each found guilty by Kanawha juries in 2011. They appealed those convictions, based on errors they felt were committed in their trials.
Rogers and Sutherland were both sentenced to life without mercy.
Rogers, who was homeless at the time, was arrested after the body of Laura Amos was discovered in a vacant St. Albans house. Amos, also homeless, had been stabbed in the throat.
Rogers contended that his statement to police was taken improperly, that his public defense attorney had a conflict of interest and the prosecutor's closing argument at trial was improper. He requested a new trial and Circuit Judge Carrie Webster denied that.
The justices affirmed that circuit court decision and upheld the conviction of first-degree murder.
Timothy Sutherland was convicted of the brutal slaying of his cousin, Stacie Smith, 32, in her Carson Street, St. Albans home. That trial was also held in 2011 with Circuit Judge James Stucky presiding.
Sutherland said one of the jurors in his trial was biased and should have been removed. He said that juror, Kevin Wong, said during the jury selection process that a convicted murderer should spend his life in prison.
He raised his hand when an attorney asked who believed in "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."
Wong was chosen as one of the jurors who decided Sutherland's case.
Stucky denied Sutherland's motion for a new trial based on that, and the Supreme Court determined he was correct. That decision this week means Sutherland's conviction stands.
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