The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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March 30, 2013

Murder trial moved to Raleigh

Family ties cited

— A 60-year-old murder suspect’s trial has been moved from Mercer to Raleigh County and will be held Oct. 15 before specially appointed Judge John S. Hrko.

Gerald Wayne Little, of Wyoming County, was charged with the first-degree murder of Jerry Buckner, 57, in March 2012.

Buckner was found dead at his Honaker Avenue residence in Princeton. Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash reported that Buckner died from stab wounds to the neck.

Sgt. J.W. Howell told The Bluefield Daily Telegraph that Little had completed a few odd jobs for Buckner and he was living on property owned by Buckner.

Howell said Little was planning to rob Buckner at his home on Honaker Avenue and forensic evidence led police to file charges against Little.

After two motions, one disqualifying Ash from the case because relatives of the victim work in his office, and another request for a change of venue due to familial kinship of a circuit clerk, the case has been moved to Raleigh County Circuit Court.

Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller was assigned to handle the prosecution. Little is being represented by Michael Gibson.

During the status conference Thursday, Judge Hrko scheduled a pre-trial motions hearing Oct. 4 at 1 p.m. and a jury trial for Oct. 15, which was noted to be the earliest the Raleigh County court would be available.

Keller explained that being appointed the special prosecutor of a case outside her jurisdiction was no different than handling one in Raleigh County.

“I will handle it as if it had arisen in our own home county.”

In addition to this murder charge, in April 2006, Little was charged with the first-degree murder of his brother, Daniel Lynn Little, 49, of Itmann, who was found beaten to death in September 2005.

Daniel Little’s body was found Sept. 20, 2005, and Wyoming County Sheriff’s Department investigators reported they believed the victim may have been dead up to two days when he was discovered.

Gerald Little lived in Beckley at the time and was later arrested.

While released on $20,000 bond in that murder case, Little was arrested on charges of kidnapping, first-degree sexual assault, and first-degree sexual abuse after allegedly luring his ex-girlfriend into his car, choking her until she was unconscious and then making sexual contact with her while she was unconscious.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of unlawful wounding and first-degree sexual abuse on the sex crimes charge.

He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the murder trial involving his brother’s death and was sentenced to serve 10 years.

Little is currently being held without bond at Southern Regional Jail.

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

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