The Voice of West Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The man accused in the December shooting death of Charleston police officer Cassie Johnson is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday morning in Kanawha County Circuit Court.
Joshua Phillips, 38, was recently indicted by a grand jury on murder and gun charges.
Phillips shot Johnson during an altercation on Dec. 1 on Garrison Avenue in Charleston. She died two days later.
Johnson returned fire on Phillips. He was hospitalized for several days.
Johnson was answering a parking complaint when the altercation took place.
Phillips is scheduled to appear for a video arraignment at 9:30 a.m. Thursday before Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey. A trial date will likely be scheduled.
Phillips is being held in South Central Regional Jail without bail.
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Governor Justice puts his pen to more bills approved by the Legislature. The Governor is also urging West Virginians who are eligible to get the Covid 19 vaccine, he says without it he can’t lift the mask mandate. A high profile murder trial in Charleston is ready to begin next week. There will be a change in healthcare in Webster County after years of discussion. It’s Earth Day and in sports a former Mountaineer is the new head coach at Radford and the top girls high school basketball team are gearing up for next weeks’ state tourney. Those stories and more in today’s MetroNews This Morning podcast.
ONA, W.Va. — Cabell County authorities closed a section of Interstate 64 Thursday morning after a series of vehicle crashes in connection with below freezing temperatures.
Dispatchers said the wrecks were in the eastbound lanes at the 22-mile marker between Milton and Barboursville. They happened at right around 6 a.m.
There was also a wreck near the Milton exit in the westbound lanes.
A motorist sitting in stalled traffic near Milton told MetroNews the bridges in the area appeared icy. He he drove by three overturned vehicles.
Vehicle Crash on I-64 EB at MM 22.0.
2 of 2 eastbound lanes are closed.
Use caution when traveling through this area.
— West Virginia 511 (@WV511) April 22, 2021
Several accidents were also reported in the Huntington area and at least one on Interstate 64 in Putnam County.
Temperatures dipped below freezing Thursday morning after rain and sleet that fell Wednesday. There were also reports of fog in Huntington and surrounding areas.
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The trial and convictions of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd mean different things to different people.
For me, the ordeal, the trial, and the verdict were about accountability.
The story did not start out that way. The initial statement by Minneapolis police nearly one year ago said Floyd’s death was the result of a “medical condition during police interaction.”
That generic description bore no resemblance to what really happened.
Fortunately, a 17-year-old bystander, Darnella Frazier, pulled out her phone and recorded what took place. The country, and more importantly the jury, saw on the nearly 10-minute long video Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd pleaded for his life.
It is reasonable to wonder whether Chauvin would have been held accountable had there not been an independent video.
But there was, and that turned out to be the most significant piece of evidence for the prosecution.
There is plenty of speculation now that the jurors were afraid to not convict Chauvin because they did not want to be responsible for triggering riots. That is unknown at this point.
However, after watching that video and hearing the Minneapolis police chief testify that Chauvin’s action “in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy,” what other conclusion could the jury reasonably reach?
So, the system worked. Chauvin was held accountable.
Accountability is an important concept, especially for individuals in positions of responsibility, and few professions in our society bear a greater responsibility that police officers. They maintain “the thin blue line” that separates order from chaos.
That position carries with it risk, as well as an obligation to stay within the boundaries of the law themselves. Police officers must have the benefit of the doubt, especially when making split-second life or death decisions, but they must also show restraint.
When a police officer crosses that line, as Chauvin did, there must be accountability, and that strengthens trust, which is vitally important in policing. So, one reasonable conclusion from the Chauvin trial is not that “all cops are bad,” but rather when a cop fails in his responsibility, they will be held accountable.
With police body cams and the proliferation of cell phone video, we are going to be witnesses to more and more confrontations between police and individuals.
Maybe we will learn more from them about how difficult and dangerous police work really is, and that would be helpful. Maybe we will all become armchair critics who endlessly second guess the police, and that will make an already difficult job even less desirable.
Hopefully, we will also get increased accountability, like we did in the case of George Floyd, and that will make policing better and the public safer.
(Highlights and photo gallery by Teran Malone)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Wheeling Park defeated University, 58-37 Wednesday night in the Class AAAA Region I co-finals. Lindsey Garrison led the Patriots with 19 points while Bella Abernathy added 13.
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Gov. Jim Justice says he has a new mantra to represent the importance of persuading thousands of West Virginians who seem reluctant to get a covid-19 vaccine.
“Beat 588 bad,” Justice said at a briefing today. “That’s my next goal, and that’s what we’ll do.”
He said the number 588,000 represents 40 percent of West Virginia’s population that is eligible for covid-19 vaccination.
“We must reach these people and encourage them to take the vaccine,” Justice said.
West Virginia has administered at least one dose to 687,045 people, according to the state’s coronavirus response dashboard. The state says 520,206 people have been fully vaccinated.
But state and local officials agree that the pace of vaccination has slowed.
West Virginia’s population is almost 1.8 million. The governor has described about 400,000 state residents below age 16, which is the current cutoff age for vaccination eligibility.
So today he described a total vaccine-eligible population of 1.47 million people.
If 40 percent don’t want to be vaccinated, that would be 588,000 people.
Justice said he doubts the number of people who are resistant to taking the vaccine is as high as 40 percent, though.
“I hope and pray that it’s not right,” the governor said. “From a math standpoint, if we’ve got 588,000 people who are denying the vaccine no matter what then we’re at the end of the rainbow as far as people willing to take the vaccine that are going to come unless we can change their minds. That’s what we need to continue to work on.
“We’ve got at least a population out there that needs our help to try to get them information to where they can feel comfortable to take the vaccine.”
Justice also tried to clarify a changed state guideline about wearing facial coverings while exercising in a public place.
Earlier this week, the governor eliminated the 91 executive orders he had instituted over the course of the pandemic and replaced some continuing state guidance into one new executive order.
The updated guidance adds an exemption to the statewide indoor face covering requirement “so that, if you are actively engaged in physical activity like indoor sports, you do not need to wear a face covering.”
Responding to a couple of questions, Justice tried to describe how that would work in real life situations.
At gyms, people may have a hard time breathing through facial coverings if they are working out, Justice said. So, he said, people actively engaged in exercise would not be expected to wear a mask.
“As soon as you get through with the hard level of exercise,” he said, “without any question I expect you to have your mask back on.”
The governor, who coaches high school girls basketball, was also asked how the change might affect organized sports. He said athletes who are actively competing wouldn’t be expected to wear facial coverings. But he said coaches, staff and reserves on a team should still wear masks.
“That coach isn’t running up and down the floor. The kids on the bench aren’t running up and down the floor,” he said. “We absolutely expect those players to be able to wear their masks, as the coaches should.”
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LOGAN, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Logan’s 61-39 win over Winfield in the Class AAA Region IV co-finals.
(Photos courtesy of Boothe Davis/Captured by the Moment Photography)
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UPPERGLADE, W.Va. — With a spot in the Class A state tournament at stake, Webster County coach Sharon Baird figured nerves could be a factor Wednesday in the Highlanders’ Region III co-final against James Monroe.
Sure enough, that appeared to be the case early for the Highlanders, who trailed by four through one quarter. But from the midpoint of the second quarter on, it was all Webster, which closed the opening half on a 16-2 run to seize control in a 61-40 victory.
“It was definitely a total team effort. Everybody stepped up tonight,” Highlanders’ coach Sharon Baird said. “They knew this was going to be a challenge for us. We got off to a slow start. A little bit of nerves hit us and then once we kicked in and became more aggressive, we didn’t look back. We just kept going with it.”
The Highlanders (14-2) are the No. 5 seed in the state tournament and will take on No. 4 Tucker County in a Class A quarterfinal at 9 p.m. Tuesday. It marks Webster County’s first trip to the state tournament since 2004.
“It means a lot to both of us,” said sophomore guard Sydney Baird, the coach’s daughter and team’s top scorer. “I told her when I was young that we were going to get there. Knowing we finally did means everything to us.”
As the Highlanders have become accustomed to seeing over the course of a memorable season, Baird was again key in the victory.
A box-and-1 defense from the Mavericks held Baird to two points in the opening quarter, but she got going in the second after making a pair of free throws and converting a layup off a steal to tie the game at 21.
Two more Baird free throws put the Highlanders in front, before she accounted for three field goals over the remainder of the half. Baird totaled 12 of her game-high 20 points in the decisive spurt over the final 4:17 of the half that allowed Webster to turn a four-point deficit into a 33-23 halftime advantage.
“That run put them up for good. Baird is a really good ball player,” Mavericks’ coach Matt Phillips said. “Our whole game plan coming in was to stop her. We went to the box-and-1 and the team defense was good for a while, but she started penetrating and finding her way in those creases in the second quarter. She created the offense and you have to tip your hat to her for creating.”
James Monroe (12-6) never got the deficit to single digits in the second half, although it was still within striking distance after three quarters, trailing 43-31.
A three-pointer from Akayla Hughes allowed the Mavericks to cut the Highlanders’ lead to 47-36 early in the fourth quarter, but they’d get no closer.
Holly Perrine answered with a triple and after Natalie Snyder scored inside, the Highlanders’ advantage was up to 16.
The Highlanders forced 23 turnovers to help overcome 17 of their own.
“That was part of our game plan was to pressure them as much as we could, try to force turnovers and get easy baskets off of it,” coach Baird said.
Webster County also limited JMHS to one three-pointer and single-digit scoring in each of the final three quarters.
Baird made 8-of-12 field goals and had seven assists and six rebounds.
“I can’t get out of comfort,” she said. “If I do, it doesn’t work. I know what works for me and what goes so I just play my game.”
Madison Hamrick, who scored six first-quarter points, added 15 points and a game-high nine rebounds in the win. Perrine and Snyder scored eight apiece.
Hughes led the Mavericks with 18 points and Adyson Hines contributed 10 in defeat, but the rest of the Mavericks combined to make only 5-of-27 shots.
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GRAFTON, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Grafton’s 57-55 win over Notre Dame in the opening round of the Class AAA Regional tournament.
(Photos courtesy of Ben Queen Photography/benqueenphotography.com)
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Five Knights scored in double figures as Cabell Midland held off a fourth quarter surge to defeat Parkersburg, 65-56 in the Class AAAA Region IV co-finals.
Cabell Midland (12-3) led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter but a 10-0 Parkersburg run to start the fourth quarter gave the Big Reds a 52-50 lead. The Knights however scored the final 10 points of the game over the final three minutes.
“They got up by one and in that last 2:43, they didn’t score again. We picked up our defense the rest of the way and we made free throws at the end,” said Cabell Midland head coach Matt Adkins.
Autumn Lewis led a balanced Knights attack, scoring 14 points. Jazmyn Wheeler scored a dozen, Sophi Aldridge added 11 and Jayda Allie and KK Potter scored 10 each.
“That is what we have been looking for all year. That’s what we had last year with five in double figures. They have been coming around the last few games so I am really proud of them.”
Cabell Midland returns to the state tournament with the majority of their squad back from the one that fell to University in the quarterfinal round last March. The Knights are the No. 2 seed and will face Jefferson in the quarterfinal round next Thursday at 1 p.m.
“It is a big deal, especially for our lone senior, Autumn. We want another chance at it. I think we have one of the better teams. It just depends on if they come in and play. It is exciting for the kids.”
Brilynn Florence led the Big Reds (10-9) with 18 points. Kisten Roberts added 11 points.
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