The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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February 1, 2013

Beckley man gets 20 years for murder plea

BECKLEY — On June 5, 2012, a daughter lost her mother, a sibling lost her sister and two kids lost their grandma.

Teresa Wilson, a 48-year-old Beckley woman, passed away that day after suffering severe head trauma from a domestic altercation June 1.

Arthur Emmanuel Agnew, 44, was initially charged with malicious wounding, but those charges were upgraded to first-degree murder when his live-in girlfriend of five months died a few days later at Charleston Area Medical Center.

Agnew sought help from a neighbor, who alerted 911 during the incident. Agnew told police that Wilson received her injuries from falling out of bed; however, police said the physical evidence suggested otherwise. He later gave a statement to police, admitting that he struck her several times.

Agnew pleaded guilty in Raleigh County Circuit Court Thursday before Judge Robert Burnside to second-degree murder. Through this plea agreement, Agnew accepted a flat term of 20 years in prison.

Wilson’s daughter, Erica Hand, addressed the court Thursday during Agnew’s sentencing.

“You’re the one who has to live with what you’ve done. Two-year-old Madison no longer has a grandmother. She will never remember her.”

She asked Agnew what she was supposed to say to her 6-year-old son, James, who asked her, “Why would someone hurt my ma-maw?”

“One day you will be a free man,” Hand said. “Although I would like for your last breath to be spent in jail, your real sentence will begin when you die.”

Wilson’s sister, Tonia Thomas, said, “He is guilty of so much more. He is guilty of wreaking havoc on my family. His actions will forever alter how we live our lives.”

She asked, “What is justice? What is right?” She said none of this makes sense, but what bothers her most is that Agnew will have time — time her sister no longer has.

Judge Burnside told both the women that the court offered sympathy.

He asked Agnew if he would like to speak, but he declined.

“There is no sentence that can adequately address the gravity of this crime,” Burnside said. “The loss of a mother, grandmother or sister is never timely, but when it happens at the hands of a murderer, it’s greatly distorted. There is no resolution in it for anyone.”

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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