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A Kanawha County woman on trial for fatally stabbing another woman in the back was found guilty of first-degree murder on Thursday.

Cynthia Gatewood, 32, of Cross Lanes, was found guilty of fatally stabbing 57-year-old Cheryl Fisher in front of a tobacco store in Sissonville in September 2018. Gatewood pleaded not guilty in March 2019.

After the guilty verdict was announced Thursday afternoon, witnesses on both sides began testifying to whether Gatewood should receive mercy during sentencing. Her first-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence without the chance for parole if mercy is not granted.

If the jury does grant mercy, she would become eligible for parole in 15 years. The jury will return at 9 a.m. Friday.

Gatewood’s trial, which began Monday, was the first criminal jury trial to occur in Kanawha County since the COVID-19 pandemic hit West Virginia in mid-March. Kanawha Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit presided over the trial, which was held in the ceremonial courtroom in the old Kanawha County Courthouse.

The ceremonial courtroom was given a makeover in the past two weeks to allow for social distancing — $7,000 was spent on materials, most of which went toward polycarbonate shields, or glass shields, that separate the judge, court staff, attorneys and jurors.

Reach Joe Severino at, 304-348-4814 or follow

@jj_severino on Twitter.