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Whoever happens to stop by this blog may wonder why I started it. Whenever I read news stories online I always like to put a face to the story. So I got to thinking maybe other people would as well. I always keep up on WV news and most stories don't have the mugshots with them so I hunt them up online and post them with the story. It's not that hard and I don't know why the state news sites don't do it

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Man arrested for murder

MARTINSBURG - A Martinsburg man charged in the murder of 37-year-old Kenneth Waybright was arrested without incident Tuesday in the basement of his parent's home.

The victim was an innocent bystander from Stephens City, Va., who was killed last year when a stray bullet struck him in the head during a triple shooting outside a local night club.

Elan Bell-Veney, 23, of Gemstone Court, was taken to Eastern Regional Jail to await arraignment Tuesday night by Berkeley County Magistrate Sandra Miller on one count of murder and three counts of felony wanton endangerment.

Police said the arrest occurred between 5 and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday by members of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives and officers from the Martinsburg City Police Department. Officers were able to make the arrest after information that was obtained from a confidential informant led police to Bell-Veney's location.

"We got a call that he was at his house. We went with probably five officers from City PD - we also had two officers from the ATF and us," said Lt. Gary Harmison of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department. "They caught him in his basement. Not a problem."

A warrant was obtained charging Bell-Veney with murder last Friday by Harmison, who was the lead investigator in the case, after a witness, one of the surviving shooting victims, cooperated with police and identified Bell-Veney as the shooter.

"We finally got the cooperation of one of the victims. He gave us a statement, and with everything else that we had gotten it was enough to get the warrant," Harmison said.

The shooting happened just before 3 a.m. July 20, 2008, outside what is now known as The Brick House located off of Mid-Atlantic Parkway. At the time, the bar at that location was The Orioles Nightclub.

The second victim, Donzel White, of Martinsburg, who was 23 years old at the time, was struck once with a bullet that passed through his wrist and entered his throat. He was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital and has since recovered.

The third victim, Dale Knight, also of Martinsburg, who was 22 at the time, was shot in the upper leg area and was taken to City Hospital, where he was treated and released.

Knight, who is currently incarcerated in Maryland, was the witness who finally gave police what they needed to obtain a warrant for Bell-Veney's arrest.

"He was actually being interviewed for something else. I told the officer who was interviewing him to ask him about the shooting. He told us everything," Harmison said.

Waybright was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg after the shooting where he was pronounced brain dead. He was taken off of life support two days later, on July 22. He is survived by his widow, Tracey Waybright, and three children.

The arrest brings to a close a nearly 16-month investigation.

Berkeley County Sheriff Kenneth "Kenny" Lemaster Jr. commended Harmison for his hard work on the investigation, as well the other officers involved in the case.

"Gary worked diligently at it and he never gave up," Lemaster said.

Harmison said investigators suspected Bell-Veney was responsible for the shooting as little as three days after the incident, though a lack of witnesses and a lack of cooperation from witnesses prevented police from obtaining a warrant for his arrest.

Just days after the murder, Bell-Veney fled to California, where investigators said he remained for about four months.

During the course of the investigation, Harmison received a photo array of 18 people and showed it to a witness from Frederick, Md. The witness eventually identified Bell-Veney's picture, records show.

Another witness was also shown a photo array and he too picked out Bell-Veney's picture. Both witnesses were at the bar the night of the shooting, though it took several months to contact the second witness, police said.

On July 27, Sgt. Dean Olack of the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force interviewed Knight about another case. During the interview, Olack asked Knight abut the shooting. Knight stated that when he came out of the bar with his girlfriend, White and Bell-Veney had gotten into an argument. Knight said he walked toward a car because he said he figured the two men were going to fight. He then told Olack that he saw both men had guns.

He said Bell-Veney started shooting while sitting in his car. Knight said White was hit twice, and Bell-Veney kept firing and he was hit in the leg.

Bell-Veney will be held without bail at Eastern Regional Jail following his arraignment. If convicted of murder, he could face a maximum of up to life in prison.


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