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Man gets 20 years in local beating death

February 10, 2019

HUNTINGTON — A Huntington man was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison Tuesday after admitting to violently beating a man whose drunken story just “didn’t add up” in 2017.

Deland Royce Steelman, 33, of Huntington, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Tuesday before Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard.

A charge alleging first-degree robbery was dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Steelman was charged July 21, 2017, after the body of Ned M. Walker, 59, of Huntington, was found in an alley between 5th and 6th streets and 3rd and 4th avenues in Huntington near the on-ramp to the Robert C. Byrd Bridge.

Following a sentencing recommendation by assistant prosecutor Sharon Frazier and defense attorney Russ Cook, Howard sentenced Steelman to the maximum of 15 years allowed under the statute for that crime, but added an additional five years to the sentence due to Steelman’s past criminal history.

On the night of the slaying, Steelman was caught on surveillance video hitting Walker with his hands and feet. Officers arrived at the site about 3 a.m. that day to find the man’s body slumped against the rear entrance of a business. Walker suffered blunt-force injuries to his face.

As he confessed to the crime Tuesday, Steelman said the argument started when a group of people were drinking and Walker started telling a story that “didn’t add up.”

“I accused him of lying, and I told him to be quiet. He refused, so I stepped up and I backhanded him and I said, ‘Now that’s on you. Just be quiet,’” he said. “Then I started to walk away and he said, ‘No, “eff” you,’ and I turned around and kicked him.

“He started to fall over. I thought I had just broken his nose because he was bleeding out of his nose. It wasn’t intentional that he died or anything. I tried to sit him back up so he didn’t fall over and choke on his own blood because he was drunk.”

Steelman was located by law enforcement at a gas station about half a mile away shortly after the attack.

Frazier said the video surveillance appears to show Steelman kicking Walker once in the head, causing his head to hit a wall behind him before he slumped to the ground.

Steelman did not apologize for his actions, but did say he did not mean to kill the victim, calling it a “bad mistake.”

The plea turned into a Kennedy plea, where a defendant does not have to admit their guilt, midway through sentencing because of this. State statute says for a crime to be voluntary manslaughter, there has to be intent to kill.

The previous incident that led to the sentencing enhancement occurred in Lexington, Kentucky, about seven years ago, when Steelman was convicted of second-degree robbery.

In that instance he admitted to attacking another man in the same manner as he did Walker, in which the victim was attacked in the head. He said Tuesday he had been attempting to move that man’s body so he didn’t choke on his blood, like Walker, when a witness accused him of attempting to rob the man.

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

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