The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 7, 2012

News Briefs

The Associated Press

Va. couple sentenced to life for slaying of West Virginia family

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man and his wife were sentenced Thursday to life in prison for the slayings of a West Virginia family.

Lorie Ann Taylor-Keller and her husband, Nakia Keller, of Fulks Run pleaded guilty in June to more than a dozen charges.

The charges included crossing state lines to kill Taylor-Keller’s ex-husband, 36-year-old Dennis “Chip” Taylor; his wife, 39-year-old Alliana Taylor; and her 5-year-old daughter, Kaylee.

The victims were fatally shot and their home in Hardy County was burned in October 2009.  

According to a statement of facts entered into the record in U.S. District Court, the Kellers used a 9mm pistol they had purchased to shoot the West Virignia family, then set fire to the house in an attempt to destroy evidence.

They also discarded along the roadside bullets and other items related to the murders.

Nakia Keller also used an electric saw to cut the murder weapon into small pieces for disposal.


Woman’s murder retrial on hold to allow weapon examination

CHARLESTON (AP) — A Kanawha County judge has postponed the second trial of an Elkview woman accused of fatally shooting her estranged husband in his Charleston hospital bed.

Rhonda K. Stewart’s attorneys told Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman on Wednesday they needed more time for expert examination of the weapon allegedly used in the 2009 shooting.

The trial was scheduled to begin next month. Media outlets report a new trial date will be set later this month.

In 2010, Stewart was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years for first-degree murder.

Last November the state Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Stewart, ruling that a jury should have heard that she had been beaten and abused by Sammy Stewart throughout their 38-year marriage.


Spencer raising money for up to 10 ballistic vests for city police

SPENCER (AP) — City of Spencer officials are collecting money to buy up to 10 ballistic vests after a vest apparently saved a deputy sheriff’s life last week.

Roane County Deputy John Westfall was wounded Aug. 28 by 22-year-old Luke Baber of Oak Hill, who shot and killed two state troopers.

Baber also shot and wounded Westfall along with a tow truck driver before he was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies.

Westfall was shot in the arm and abdomen. Roane County Sheriff Mike Harper said Westfall’s body armor saved his life.

But not every officer in Roane County has a ballistic vest, so Spencer marketing director Jacob Fetty started a fund-raising drive to buy more.

He tells the Charleston Gazette  that nearly $2,000 has been raised. The vests cost $650 each.