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Trial reset in 2017 homeless beating death case

February 6, 2019
Michael Ray Hughes, 52, center left, and Willie David Layne, 25, center right, appear in Cabell Circuit Court on Nov. 8, 2018, to have a trial date set. The men are charged with murder in the July 7, 2017, death of Ricky Allen Roach.

HUNTINGTON — A Huntington murder case set to go to trial Monday, Feb. 11, will instead start in three weeks due to a request by one of the defense attorneys.

The trial is for Michael Ray Hughes, 52, and Willie David Layne, 25, who are charged with murder in the July 7, 2017, beating death of Ricky Allen Roach. Roach was found by a passer-by about 5 a.m. the same day behind a building in the 100 block of 7th Avenue, near the 1st Street underpass and the railroad tracks, according to Huntington Police Detective Steve Fitz.

Their co-defendant, Virginia Louise Curry, 28, pleaded guilty to malicious wounding in October, stating she kicked the victim one time, and is expected to testify against her co-defendants at their trial. She will be sentenced after that testimony.

Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell set the new trial start date for Feb. 26 during a brief hearing Monday.

Antwon Starkey, who is accused of gunning down a beloved youth football coach in 2017, is also scheduled for

trial that day in another courtroom. However, both defense attorneys in the Hughes and Layne case, Abe Saad and Jack Dolance, represent Starkey on that case. Farrell said his case would take precedence over Starkey’s.

Fitz previously said the police determined a confrontation started between Layne and Roach after Roach allegedly made a derogatory sexual statement about Curry while the three were drinking.

Roach was attacked by the trio, who were drinking beer between alleged assaults, in different configurations at least three times that evening as he lay unconscious, Fitz said. Hughes and Layne indicated Curry joined them on at least one occasion and kicked Roach in the head.

After the alleged beating, a Huntington police officer was at a local grocery store when he was approached about a possible man down nearby and shortly after found Roach dead.

Based on CSX police information, Fitz drove around the neighborhood successfully seeking Curry, who gave the location of Hughes. Both were taken to police headquarters for questioning. Huntington Detective Chris Sperry later found Layne in downtown Huntington.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.

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