Mingo suspect to undergo evaluation
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- The man accused of fatally shooting Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum in April will undergo a mental evaluation, a Cabell County judge ordered Wednesday.
Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell said the first-degree murder trial for Tennis Melvin Maynard would begin March 4 in Williamson.
Wednesday's pretrial hearing was the first for Kanawha County prosecutors, who were assigned to the case after former Mingo County prosecuting attorney Michael Sparks recused himself in September. Sparks has since resigned and is expected to plead guilty to an unrelated federal charge.
Farrell requested that Maynard's attorneys and prosecutors come up with a list of questions to ask potential jurors by Dec. 1. The judge hopes the questionnaire will weed out jurors who are related to the Maynard or Crum family, Farrell said.
But he acknowledged that a jury would be difficult to seat in Mingo County with the widespread attention the case has received.
"We will do our absolute best to seat a jury in Mingo County," Farrell said. "If that doesn't become possible then we then will go to alternatives, a plan B that might end up bringing it here [to Huntington]."
Jury selection is set to begin Feb. 3 or 4, a month before the proposed start of the trial.
Police believe Maynard, 38, of Delbarton, shot Crum with a .40-caliber Glock at close range as Crum sat in his cruiser eating lunch in Williamson on April 3. Maynard fled to Delbarton after the shooting, where police said he pointed a gun at Mingo County Sheriff's Deputy Norman Mines. Mines then shot Maynard several times.
Besides murder, Maynard also is charged with fleeing and attempted murder for allegedly pointing a gun at Mines.
Richard Weston, Maynard's attorney, asked that his client undergo a mental evaluation on Wednesday. A mental evaluation has not been conducted on Maynard since he was arrested in April, Weston said.
Assistant Kanawha prosecutor Fred Giggenbach said he might request a separate mental evaluation, pending the outcome of the one Weston has requested.
Maynard previously checked into at least two psychiatric facilities in 2010 for unknown reasons. Maynard's father told The Associated Press that his son had suffered mental trauma from a coal mining accident in 2007 in Alabama. Those injuries caused Maynard to stay awake for days at a time, his father said.
Maynard was indicted by a federal grand jury in June on charges of possession of a firearm by an individual who had been committed to a mental institution and making a false statement in acquisition of a firearm. He also faces charges of illegally possessing a firearm on five occasions. Federal authorities said Maynard lied about his mental health records before buying three guns in 2010 and 2011.
Crum's widow, Rosie, attended Wednesday's hearing but would not speak with reporters afterward.
Maynard attended the hearing via a video link from Western Regional Jail. Farrell said neither the prosecution nor the defense filed a request to transfer Maynard to the courtroom.
Maynard sat with his arms crossed most of the time and answered "yeah" to the judge's questions.
When Farrell asked Maynard if he was OK with the trial being set for March 4, during the next term of court, Maynard shrugged and said, "That's fine. I guess that's cool."
Maynard had expected the trial to begin sooner, Weston said after the hearing.
Reach Travis Crum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5163.