The Times West Virginian

Local News

September 21, 2013

Washington to stand trial for murders at Windmill

Motions to dismiss indictment, suppress statements denied

FAIRMONT — Eddie Jack Washington will stand trial for the 1974 Windmill Park murders on Nov. 18.

The pretrial motion to dismiss an indictment against Washington for the murders was denied Sept. 19, as were two motions to suppress statements made by Washington in 1978 and 2013.

On Aug. 2, 1974, Marion County residents Junior and Wanda Phillips, and Billy Ray Cobb were found shot execution-style at Windmill Park.

Washington is one of two men indicted for the murders. Phillip Reese Bush was also indicted and is currently serving two life sentences at Mt. Olive Correctional Complex for a double homicide conviction in 1983.

The prosecution and defense had the opportunity to lay out their arguments regarding the pretrial motions in court Aug. 7, Aug. 13 and Aug. 29.

The defense argued that the indictment should be dismissed due to the unnecessary prosecutorial delay, which has resulted in many witnesses for the defense being deceased or missing, making it difficult to establish alternative theories for the case.

In addition, the defense argued that statements given in 1978 and 2013 should be dismissed because the defendant has only achieved a third-grade education and cannot read cursive, and the statements signed by the defendant were written in cursive. The defendant also did not have the mental capacity to waive his Miranda rights, the defense argued.

Circuit Judge Michael Aloi denied the motion to dismiss Washington’s indictment because it is in the interest of public safety to keep keep the “co-defendant incarcerated” which is “a reasonable cause for delay.

“The renewed threat to public safety outweighs any resulting prejudice,” Judge Aloi’s statement said.

The defense has the ability to base alternative theories of the case on more than just witness testimony, and can use statements made by previous investigators regarding alternative theories, which will be given admittance at trial, the statement said.

The motions to suppress statements were also denied. Judge Aloi stated that Washington had Miranda rights explained to him and was given the opportunity to invoke them.

Once he unambiguously invoked his right to silence, questioning ceased, Aloi’s statement said. Whether or not Washington had the ability to make accurate statements when scared is a question for a jury, the statement said.

The defense team of Neal Jay Hamilton and Holly Turkett had sought to dismiss the indictment based on prejudice because of “unnecessary prosecutorial delay.”

Turkett argued that, due to the passing of almost four decades, many witnesses who could offer support for alternative theories for the case are either deceased or cannot be located. Turkett argued that had the state acted in 1974 when these witnesses made their testimony, this would not be the case.

However, assistant prosecuting attorney Nate Chapman said that in order to have the indictment dismissed because of prejudice caused by “unnecessary prosecutorial delay,” the defense team needed to meet certain criteria: first the defense needed to identify specific witnesses and establish that serious attempts had been made to locate them, which they did, then they needed to show that the information potentially available from the witnesses is not available through other sources. This was not so clear, Chapman said.

The defense also sought to suppress statements given by Washington on Aug. 26, 1978 and in February 2013. The 2013 statements were taken when Washington was arrested in Tampa, Fla., by U.S. Marshals Service before he was extradited to West Virginia for the murder indictment.

Testimony by Fairmont psychologist Ronald Pearse and the retired state trooper who interviewed Washington in 1978 were given at the Aug. 13 court hearing. The defense wanted to establish that Washington did not have the proper mental capacity to understand legal proceedings, or to refuse his Miranda rights.

Pearse testified that, after examining and talking with Washington for 2 1/2 hours on July 24, he had established that he had a comprehension index of 58. Anyone under level 70 is considered mentally retarded, Pearse said.

However, Pearse also testified that Washington understands courtroom rules and the consequences of verdicts at the court. Pearse also testified that Washington would be able to understand basic questioning.

Washington was originally scheduled to face trial on Aug. 26, but the trial has since been rescheduled to Nov. 18.

Email Colleen S. Good at or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

Text Only
Local News
  • Fairmont reaching out in new ways

    The city of Fairmont is starting to try to reach out to residents in new ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • Police: Plaintiff threatens trooper, wife and children

    A plaintiff in a four-year-old fraud cause is now being accused of not only threatening a State Police officer, but the lives of his wife and children.

    July 23, 2014

  • Children's Hospital Daycare bake sale reaches 10 times goal for children's hospital

    Children from Sunbeam Early Learning Center visited West Virginia University's Children's Hospital today to make a special delivery.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rescue Squad at DAC.jpg Patches teaches home safety to DAC campers

    Patches and his fire truck “pumper” made a special visit to the Can-Do summer camp.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commission wants to help finish memorial

    The Marion County Commission discussed the need to complete the Korean War Memorial.

    July 23, 2014

  • Statues 1 - MP.jpg Mascot carvings presented to FSU, PC&TC

    Pierpont Community & Technical College and Fairmont State University received special gifts Monday.
    Jason Stoner, an artist from Pennsylvania who specializes in wood carving, among other media, recently visited Fairmont as part of the Three Rivers Festival.
    “This gentleman has been carving professionally for nine years … He travels all around the area,” said Bill Pickrell, who helped make the project a reality.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Fairmont Council OKs FCDP application for state grant

    Tuesday, Fairmont City Council authorized the Fairmont Community Development Partnership’s (FCDP) application to the state’s Community Participation Grant program.
    The West Virginia Development Office Community Development Division’s Community Participation grant would provide $25,000 for the FCDP to demolish and redevelop a Fairmont property into low-income affordable housing.

    July 23, 2014

  • Pleasant Valley Council awards park renovation

     The Pleasant Valley town council accepted the bid to renovate a town park.
    The park project was planned by the Thrasher Engineering Group. Thrasher presented seven companies that placed bids on the project along with the costs broken down for how much it would cost to pay for each item involved in the process.

    July 23, 2014

  • FFCU Ground Breaking main -JB .jpg FFCU breaks ground on $9M project

     Fairmont Federal Credit Union is growing and showing its continued commitment to the community.
    On Tuesday morning, the credit union held a groundbreaking ceremony for its Marion County Branch and Corporate Offices, a project that will total $9 million, including the price of the property.

    July 23, 2014 4 Photos

  • Keeping NASA IV&V in Marion County

    NASA is in the process of determining the future of the Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont.
    NASA’s Office of Inspector General recently conducted an audit, from March 2013 through June 2014, to find out if the IV&V Program, located in the I-79 Technology Park, is using its funding appropriately. The report was released July 16.

    July 23, 2014

Featured Ads
TWV Video Highlights
NDN Editor's Picks
House Ads