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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Man pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A man accused of killing another man in a Jackson Street apartment in January pleaded guilty Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter.

Russell Allen Miller, 46, told police he got into a fight with Jason Scott Hensley, 32, of Hurricane at his apartment at 1532 Jackson St. Authorities said he pinned Hensley to the floor and cut off his breathing until he was unconscious.

Hensley was disconnected from life support three days later in a local hospital.

Miller was indicted by a Kanawha County grand jury for murder and was scheduled to go on trial Monday. Last week, Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman denied a request to postpone that trial and Miller entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors Wednesday.

In exchange for his plea of guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, the state agreed to drop a malicious wounding charge stemming from the same incident with Hensley. The malicious wounding charge carried a two- to 10-year prison sentence.

Assistant Prosecutor Tera Salango told Kaufman, "The defendant was in his apartment with the victim on Jan. 18 and a type of altercation ensured.

"When police arrived, he told them he put pressure on his airway and he stopped breathing," she said. "When they arrived, his lips were blue and he had been out for several minutes.

"He was taken to CAMC and kept alive for three and a half days," she said. "And then died. He was brain dead."

According to Hensley's obituary, his family donated his organs.

Miller faces a possible sentence of three to 15 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter. Kaufman ordered a 60-day psychological evaluation at Anthony Correctional Center and will sentence Miller after he reviews that report.

Miller also pleaded guilty, by way of an information, to being a repeat offender. An information means the person has cooperated with prosecutors.

Salango told Kaufman that Miller had a previous felony conviction in Putnam County for unlawful assault on another man in 1987. She said he was sentenced to prison for that offense and was released in 1993.


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