A Kanawha County man has been convicted in the January 2019 shooting death of a woman in Rand.
Kanawha County Circuit Judge Kenneth Ballard on Thursday found Gerard Maxwell guilty of first-degree murder, domestic battery and illegally possessing a firearm in the killing of Marian Janyne Chapman, his ex-girlfriend.
According to a criminal complaint, Chapman, 28, was found on Jan. 15, 2019, with multiple gunshot wounds on the front porch of a house in the 300 block of Clemson Avenue in Rand. Chapman was taken to a hospital, where she died.
Ballard, who decided the case instead of a jury after a bench trial in December, said he had reviewed 73 pieces of evidence and nearly 700 pages of court transcripts to reach a verdict.
Ballard found that Maxwell intentionally struck, choked and threatened to kill Chapman while holding a gun.
During the trial, a witness testified the two were visiting a friend’s home when the shooting took place.
When Chapman left the room to escape Maxwell, he followed her out to the porch where, “with the pre-meditated intent of killing her,” he shot her five times, the judge ruled.
Despite Maxwell being shot twice in the altercation with Chapman, he did not seek medical attention and instead went to a friend’s house and then fled to Atlanta, the judge ruled. Maxwell was reportedly arrested in Atlanta two months after the shooting.
“The court finds the defendant’s refusal to seek medical treatment under the circumstances, combined with abandoning his vehicle and abruptly choosing to flee the state of West Virginia to Atlanta, Georgia, all which speaks to the defendants mentality of guilt for his actions,” Ballard said.
Maxwell’s attorney, Dan Holstein, had argued that Chapman shot the man twice and that another person shot Chapman during the altercation.
Holstein said Thursday he was shocked by the verdict and would appeal the conviction. Holstein said the “weight of evidence” was against the conviction.
Ballard said he would sentence Maxwell at a future hearing. Maxwell faces the possibility of life in prison. If the judge grants him mercy, he would eventually be eligible for parole.
Members of Chapman’s family said Thursday they hope the judge will not give Maxwell the option of parole.
Karma Chapman, Marian Chapman’s sister, said the judge, prosecutor and detective in the case did a good job of getting to the truth.
“From the truth of what I’ve heard, there wasn’t any mercy shown to my sister,” she said. “I’m just going to trust that the judge is going to also make that determination.”
Karma Chapman recalled her only sister as “her safe place.” Her sister “had many trades,” including being a licensed welder, but also worked as a certified nursing assistant and was “still trying to figure out” her career when she died.
“She tried to take care of everybody,” she said. “She just loved everyone and she’d take care of everyone that she loved. She was very loyal.”