The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Police/Courts

November 30, 2006

Murder charge dismissed and plea entered

A 20-year-old Nicholas County accused in a drug-related murder has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

James Roy Belknap of Leivasy pleaded guilty to a prosecutor’s information charging him with conspiracy to commit a felony, delivery of a controlled substance.

As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution dismissed an indictment charging Belknap with murder.

He was accused of assisting his father, Kenneth Belknap, in burning the body of Richard Parnell in July 2005. The Belknaps allegedly burned Parnell’s body after he had been shot in a dispute over a drug deal.

Kenneth Belknap pleaded guilty in October to murder and was sentenced to life in prison with a possibility of parole after 15 years. He said his son had no involvement in Parnell’s murder.

As part of the plea agreement, the younger Belknap will be required to cooperate with law enforcement and provide a detailed account of the events of July 17, 2005.

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