Request to drop murder conviction denied

September 27, 2018


HUNTINGTON — A Cabell County circuit court judge declined to drop a first-degree murder conviction Tuesday against a man found guilty in a beating death along the banks of the Guyandotte River in Huntington last year.

Anthony Scott Adkins, 32, was found guilty in July of first-degree murder after standing trial in the beating death of Douglas E. Daniels, 39, of Huntington. Daniels was found May 4, 2017, on the west bank of the Guyandotte River, behind the floodwall and near the intersection of 31st Street and 5th Avenue.

Defense attorneys Kerry Nessel and Todd Meadows requested the acquittal Tuesday, stating testimony from West Virginia State Medical Examiner Allen Mock at trial contradicted what was released in the medical examiner’s report last year. They also argued the state had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt it was Adkins who was responsible for Daniels* death.

Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard denied the requests after about 15 minutes of arguments. The defense attorneys said they plan to appeal the case to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

In presenting their case at trial, assistant prosecutors Sharon Frazier and Kellie Neal alleged Adkins had assisted Joey Vernetter in taking Daniels to the ground and brutally beating him with their fists and feet and eventually a rock found along the riverbank.

Vernetter was seen after the beating running from the scene before jumping into the Guyandotte River and then drowning.

The defense argued Adkins’ participation was minor, stating he didn’t even punch or kick Daniels and that he had only tried to break up the fight between Vernetter and Daniels.

According to Nessel, the medical examiner’s report stated Daniels had died by a person wielding a blunt object, like a brick or a rock. However, at trial the medical examiner clarified her report in testifying a hand or a foot could be considered to be a blunt object, he said.

“To wield something is to pick something up,” he said. “You don’t pick up your own fist. You don’t pick up your own feet.”

Frazier pointed to testimony from expert witnesses who clarified at trial what the term meant.

“There were (two expert witnesses) who said a blunt object is not necessarily a term of art, but it means that it’s not a knife, not a gunshot, not a puncture. It’s something blunt — could be a bat and could be a foot.”

Nessel said had the attorneys known that information, they could have gotten an expert witness to better fight the argument at trial.

At the end of the hearing, Nessel requested his client be moved to another section of Western Regional Jail in Barboursville due to ongoing fights he had been having with the victim’s brother. The victim’s family said the request was mutual.

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

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