Updated: 2nd-Degree Murder Plea In W.Va. 2003 Sniper Case

By: WTAP News/Associated Press
By: WTAP News/Associated Press

UPDATE: 7/30/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A Kanawha County man accused of three sniper-style slayings in 2003 has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Media outlets report that 36-year-old Shawn Lester and prosecutors reached a plea agreement Monday morning as potential jurors were arriving for his trial in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

Lester faces 10 to 40 years in prison.

He had been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shootings of Jeanne Patton, Okey Meadows Jr. and Gary Carrier.

All three victims were shot outside convenience stores. At the time, the shootings appeared to be random and came close on the heels of similar sniper-style slayings in the Washington, D.C. area. Prosecutors later said the shootings were drug-related.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATED: 7/26/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A judge has issued a gag order in the case of a Kanawha County man charged in the sniper-style slayings of three people in 2003.

Media outlets report that Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Duke Bloom cited an interview that Shawn Lester gave to WSAZ-TV in issuing the order Thursday. The interview aired Wednesday night.

Lester is scheduled to stand trial Monday on first-degree murder charges in the fatal shootings of Jeanne Patton, Okey Meadows Jr. and Gary Carrier. The victims were shot outside convenience stores with a rifle in 2003.

Lester told WSAZ-TV that he's innocent. He says it would make him feel better as a person to have fewer people think he is "this monster."

Bloom's order bars anyone associated with the case from discussing it.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 07/24/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A judge will allow testimony from a firearms expert who is connecting three sniper-style shootings in a trial that is set to begin Monday.

Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Duke Bloom ruled Tuesday that retired State Police firearms expert Roger Reed can testify in the trial of Shawn Lester, who is charged with murder in the fatal shootings of Jeanne Patton, Okey Meadows Jr. and Gary Carrier. The victims were shot outside Kanawha County convenience stores with a rifle in 2003.

Reed testified during a pretrial hearing Tuesday that the bullets used in the shootings were from the same gun.

Prosecutors say the motive was drug-related. At the time, the shootings appeared to be random.

Lester's attorney, George Castelle, tells WSAZ he will file to have the trial moved.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 4/13/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A man charged with three sniper-style slayings in Kanawha County will stand trial in June instead of May.

The Charleston Gazette reports that chief public defender George Castelle requested the postponement of Shawn Lester's trial.

Lester was scheduled to stand trial May 29. Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Duke Bloom on Thursday postponed the trial until June 27.

Lester is charged with murder in the fatal shootings of Jeanne Patton, Okey Meadows Jr. and Gary Carrier in 2003. The victims were shot outside convenience stores with a rifle.

Prosecutors say the motive was drug-related. At the time, the shootings appeared to be random.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


UPDATE: 2/22/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A man charged with three sniper-style slayings in 2003 will be tried in Kanawha County.

Media outlets report that Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Duke Bloom rejected a defense request to move Shawn Lester's trial to another county.

Lester's lawyers contended that he can't get a fair trial in Kanawha County because of intense media coverage of the case.

Bloom says in an order issued Tuesday that the defense failed to prove that media coverage created a hostile environment.

Lester is charged with murder in the fatal shootings of Jeanne Patton, Okey Meadows Jr. and Gary Carrier. The victims were shot outside convenience stores with a rifle.

Prosecutors say the motive was drug-related. At the time, the shootings appeared to be random.

The trial is set to begin May 29.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- A man charged in the 2003 sniper-style slaying of a Kanawha County woman says he's innocent.

Shawn Thomas Lester writes in a letter provided to the Charleston Gazette that the victim was his friend. Lester writes that he has nothing to hide.

Lester was arrested on a murder charge March 31. The 35-year-old Lester is accused of killing 31-year-old Jeanie Patton in August 2003.

Patton was one of three people fatally shot outside convenience stores. The shootings terrorized Kanawha County residents that summer.

In his letter, lester writes that he has voluntarily participated in several interrogations by investigators since the shootings. He also offers condolences to the victims' families.

He remains in custody at the South Central Regional Jail.

(Copyright 2011 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- A preliminary hearing for the man charged in the 2003 sniper-style slaying of woman at a Kanawha County convenience store has been pushed back to the end of the month.

WCHS-TV reports that 35-year-old Shawn Lester's hearing is now set for April 25 in Kanawha County magistrate court. Lester had been due in court last Friday, but his attorney sought a new date due to a scheduling conflict.

Lester was arrested on a murder charge March 31. He's accused in the shooting death of 31-year-old Jeanie Patton in August 2003.

Patton was one of three people killed in sniper-style slayings that terrorized Kanawha County residents that summer. Investigators have said all three were killed with the same rifle.

(Copyright 2011 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- A Charleston man has been charged with killing a woman whose death has been linked to the 2003 sniper-style slayings outside three convenience stores in Kanawha County.

Police charged 35-year-old Shawn Thomas Lester on Thursday with murder in the death of 31-year-old Jeanie Patton.

Lester is being held at the South Central Regional Jail without bond.

Investigators have said Patton was one of three people who were fatally shot with the same 22-caliber rifle in August 2003. No charges have been filed in the other shootings.

Police chief Brent Webster says he's happy that an arrest has been made, but he stressed it's still early in the investigation.

(Copyright 2011 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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8/21/2003

Ballistic tests show that all three victims in a series of sniper-style slayings in Kanawha County were killed by the same weapon.

Police also released a composite sketch of the suspect, a heavy-set white male.

Charleston Police Chief Jerry Pauley announced today that 31-year-old Jeanie Patton, 26-year-old Okey Meadows Junior and 44-year-old Gary Carrier Junior were all shot by a .22-caliber rifle.

Pauley says now that investigators know the bullets all came from the same gun, they have a direction to go in. Based on witness accounts, investigators are looking for a dark-colored, two-tone Ford F-150 extended cab pickup that was spotted at the scenes of the Patton and Meadows shootings.

Those shootings both occurred the night of Aug. 14 at convenience stores 10 miles apart, in Campbells Creek and Cedar Grove.

Police are also pursuing a possible drug connection in those two shootings.

Authorities have not linked drugs or the pickup truck to the shooting of 44-year-old Gary Carrier Junior, who was killed outside a Charleston convenience store on Aug. 10.

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08/20/2003

The bullets from two deadly shootings on the same night came from the same gun.

Ballistics tests prove the bullets fired in at least two of the three sniper style shootings in Kanawha Co. came from the same .22 caliber weapon.

So how are these tiny clues helping solve big crime?

We went to Parkersburg Police Chief Robert Newell for the answer.

He tells us it's hard to see.

Newell says when a gun is made the inside of the barrel is bore out, leaving distinctive markings inside the gun.

Those markings leave an impression on the bullet after it's fired.

After comparing two bullets under a microscope authorities can determine if they came from the same gun.

Newell says they also use markings to link other types of crime.

For instance, if a screw driver is used to pry open a door, it leaves a mark.

Marks on one door can be compared to marks on other doors to see if the same tool was used for more than one break-in.

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08/20/2003

Hundreds of tips in the investigation into three fatal Kanawha County sniper shootings have been narrowed to 10 solid leads.

Chief Deputy Phil Morris says investigators are also pursuing a possible drug link in at least two of the shootings.

Interviews with Campbells Creek residents uncovered concerns about the sale and use of methamphetamine in the unincorporated area where two of the victims lived.

The two Campbells Creek residents, 31-year-old Jeanie Patton and 26-year-old Okey Meadows Junior, were killed in separate shootings Thursday night. The shootings were 90 minutes apart at convenience stores 10 miles from each other, one in Campbells Creek and the other in Cedar Grove.

Those shootings occurred four days after 44-year-old Gary Carrier Junior of South Charleston was killed while talking on a pay phone outside a Charleston Go-Mart.

Morris would not say if the victims had drug ties or if the shootings are connected.

All three occurred at night from distances of 30 yards to 60 yards. Each victim was shot in the neck or head by a small-caliber rifle.
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08/18/2003
Police say they're investigating 100 possible suspects in the shooting deaths of three Kanawha County residents last week. Kanawha County Sheriff Dave Tucker held a press conference Monday afternoon in front of the county courthouse. He says police are following up on leads, but have no one in custody at this time. They're also looking for a dark color or maroon full-size pickup, possibly a Ford F-150.

Tucker backtracked from previous descriptions of the driver as a large white male, saying darkness may have obscured eyewitness views. Tucker says about 25 local, state and federal officers are working on the case as part of a task force. Last Thursday night, 31-year-old Jeanie Patton of Campbells Creek was shot at a Speedway convenience store about five miles from her home. About 90 minutes later 26-year-old Okey Meadows
Junior of Campbells Creek was shot at a Cedar Grove Go-Mart about ten miles from Patton.

Witnesses had said a black extended cab pickup truck was seen near both shootings. Forty-four-year-old Gary Carrier Junior of South Charleston was shot outside a Go-Mart in Charleston late on August Tenth. While bullets that killed the three people were fired from the same caliber and class of weapon, police have stopped short of definitively linking the crimes. Because Charleston is within 90 minutes' drive from our area, these recent attacks hit home more than last year's shootings in Maryland.

“You can take note of the fact that it's happened in similar places, but you shouldn't at all be surprised if one or two happen at a completely different location, or type of business,” says Bob Newell.

An official of Par-Mar Oil, which operates gas stations throughout our area, says its employees have been advised to take safety precautions when necessary. That includes notifying police of any suspicious activity, but people we spoke to at some of those stations already appear to be aware. If it has happened in Charleston, could it happen here? These customers seem to be in agreement, that it could happen anywhere.
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Original Story: 8/15/2003

Bullets that killed three victims this week outside Kanawha County convenience stores were fired from the same caliber and class of weapon, police said Friday night.

But they stopped short of saying they were fired from the same gun.

Kanawha County Sheriff Dave Tucker says ballistics tests show all three balls had the same characteristics, including being fired from a small-caliber weapon.

Police warned residents not to visit convenience stores alone
and stepped up patrols Friday.

They say a single shooter could be responsible for the deaths of the three people in and around West Virginia's capital.

Kanawha County Chief Deputy Phil Morris says he is concerned the
shootings resembled last year's sniper shootings in the Washington,
D-C- area.

F-B-I and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officials joined state and local authorities in the hunt for the shooter.

A man and a woman were both fatally shot late Thursday at different stores outside Charleston.

Another man was killed outside a third store on Charleston's west side on Sunday.

Authorities are not ruling out a possible connection to a fatal shooting at a supermarket in the Kanawha City neighborhood of Charleston in March.


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