The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

State News

April 22, 2013

Slain W.Va. sheriff coached suspect in boxing

DELBARTON — Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum gave boxing lessons to the man charged with killing him when the suspect was a teenager.

Tommy Diamond, founder of the Delbarton Boxing Club, said he asked Crum, a former amateur boxer, to coach at the club in the early 1990s when Crum was Delbarton’s police chief. Diamond told the Charleston Gazette ( ) that one of the boys coached by Crum was Tennis Melvin Maynard, who was 15 at the time.

“Eugene Crum put the boys in there with him and they were sparring with him,” said Diamond, a former Delbarton resident who now lives in Strawberry Plains, Tenn. “We had some pretty good brutes, and I mean real heavyweights.”

Maynard’s father first brought him to boxing practice in the winter of 1991, Diamond said.

Diamond said he doesn’t remember any arguments between Maynard and Crum.

Melvin Blair, who was near Maynard’s weight class in the boxing club, said he does not recall sparring with Maynard or rooming with him on tournament trips.

“I do remember he was real into religion and real into the Bible,” Blair, now 35, told the newspaper. “When I worked at Advance Auto, he would always come by and talk to me about God. I seen him on and off my whole life.”

Maynard, 37, is charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder in the death of Crum, who was fatally shot as he ate lunch in his police cruiser April 3 in a downtown Williamson parking lot. Maynard was shot by a deputy during a chase and remains at a Huntington hospital.

Maynard’s brother, Leslie, said he never talked about Crum. But Leslie Maynard said he believes the shooting was not random.

“He wouldn’t do it just for no reason,” Leslie Maynard told the newspaper. “No, he had a reason. We won’t know it until he tells us.”

He said his brother changed after he was injured while working at Drummond Coal Co.’s Shoal Creek mine in Alabama in 2007.

“When he got blowed up in Alabama and then he got into them chemicals, he was just a different person,” Leslie Maynard said. “He would stop and talk . . . and then go three or four days and not even acknowledge you. He went like that for three years probably.”

Tennis Maynard sued more than two dozen people and companies over injuries he said suffered at the mine. A lightning strike sparked an explosion, which news reports at the time said injured six people.

The case had been put on hold, and a hearing was set for August.

Leslie Maynard said his brother struggled to recover after he returned to Mingo County.

“The blast messed up his hearing, too, and he went three or four months and never slept,” Leslie Maynard said. He said his brother sought psychiatric help and was prescribed drugs to help him sleep.

He said he has not been able to speak to his brother since the shooting.

“My family, they’re taking it rough. How would your family be?” he said. “I can’t speak for my brother, not unless he speaks to me.”

Mingo County prosecutor Michael Sparks has said Tennis Maynard bought several guns after he had been determined legally ineligible to own them. Sparks has declined to say why Tennis Maynard wasn’t allowed to own a gun. But the suspect’s father has said Maynard had mental problems and had been institutionalized.


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