Supreme Court upholds St. Albans man's extended murder sentence
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A St. Albans man found guilty in the 2010 murder of a North Charleston drug dealer will serve his extended sentence, state Supreme Court justices recently affirmed.
In a weeklong trial in 2012, a Kanawha County jury found Garland Lee Murray guilty of nighttime burglary, kidnapping and first-degree murder.
This case stems from the death of 31-year-old Gregory Poole, who was found dead in a Second Avenue yard with gunshot wounds to the head.
A Kanawha County jury found Murray guilty later that year of being a recidivist. Prosecutors sought action based on the state's "three strikes" rule that allows enhanced sentences for repeat offenders.
According to court records, Murray was sentenced last year to not less than one nor more than 15 years in prison for nighttime burglary, life in prison with the possibility of parole for murder and life in prison for attempted kidnapping.
Court documents state this sentence reflected the enhancement for his previous felony convictions.
In the Dec. 2 memorandum decision, which is an abbreviated decision on the merits, justices affirmed Murray's conviction but noted Murray may still seek remedy for ineffective assistance of counsel in a habeas corpus proceeding.
The high court's ruling states the case began in April 2010 when Murray's brother, Deshawne Taylor, entered the home of Gregory and Ebony Poole. The court document notes at that time, both the Pooles were on supervised release from federal prison for convictions related to the sale of illegal drugs.
According to previous reports, testimony revealed Murray and Taylor were the Pooles' drug customers.
The brothers were trying to force the couple to show them their "stash house" where most of the drugs and money were kept."
The memorandum decision says Taylor forced Ebony Poole outside, where she said she saw Murray sitting in the car with Gregory and pointing a gun to his back.
Ebony Poole later escaped and Murray, Taylor and Gregory Poole drove away.
According to the memorandum decision, witnesses said they saw a man chase Gregory Poole and heard gunshots. That morning, Poole was found dead.
Murray and his brother were indicted on 10 counts including two burglary-related counts, one count of first degree murder of Gregory Poole, two counts of attempted kidnapping of both Pooles and five counts related to the manufacture and or intent to deliver illegal drugs, the memorandum decision states.
Taylor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kidnap.
On appeal, Murray argued the court forced him to have representation when he said he wanted to represent himself. Murray also alleged by doing so, the court forced him to have ineffective counsel.
However, the memorandum decision said immediately after he told the court he would rather represent himself, Murray asked the court to appoint another attorney. The document says when the court denied this request, Murray agreed to give his attorneys another chance.
He also later said issues with his attorneys were resolved and he didn't ask to represent himself again.
As for the ineffective counsel allegation, justices said this should be resolved in a petition for post conviction habeas corpus relief.
Murray also argued the court denied his right to get a witness in his favor. Murray mentioned his brother was on the state's witness list but never was called. His attorneys didn't call his brother.
Justices said Murray's right wasn't violated because his attorneys "made a tactical decision" by not calling him.