Dunn conviction upheald

Register-Herald file photo

The West Virginia Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of Donald Dunn in the May 2013 murder of his stepfather, Mark McDermott, and attempted murder of his mother, Johanna McDermott. He is serving life without mercy.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has affirmed the lower court conviction of Donald Dunn for the murder of his stepfather and attempting to murder his mother in May 2013.

Dunn's attorney David White cited five trial errors: denial of a motion to continue the trial, excluding expert witness testimony, allowing jail phone calls to be admitted as evidence, the court's refusal to grant a mistrial after two jurors argued in open court and refusing to give the jury information on the issue of mercy.

The defendant was sentenced to life without mercy for the shooting death of Mark McDermott, and to an additional three to 15 years for the attempted murder of his mother, Johanna McDermott. The sentences are to run consecutively.

The Supreme Court found no errors in Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge John Hutchison's rulings on any of the issues.

According to court documents, Dunn killed his stepfather and attempted to kill his mother on the day he said he was to graduate from college in May 2013; he had instead dropped out of college and never told them. The court records said that Dunn had planned to stage a murder-suicide after shooting his stepfather twice, but the gun he held against his mother's head mis-fired.

Initially, Johanna McDermott told police she had killed her husband, but when separated from her son in custody, told them that Dunn had killed her husband and attempted to kill her. Dunn denied being the shooter, but eventually confessed to both crimes, the court records said.

— Email: ppritt@register-herald.com Follow PamPrittRH on Twitter

React to this story: