This May 18 would’ve been James Means’ 18th birthday.
Instead of shopping for gifts and planning a birthday party for her firstborn child, Nafai Adkins instead is spending time calling prosecuting attorneys and planning for a trial for William Pulliam, the man who shot and killed her son on Nov. 21, 2016.
“He’s about to be 18 years old,” Adkins said Monday. “You never know how it feels until you lose a son, a daughter, a family member, period, you know? This is heartbreaking. This is something that just don’t go away. It stays with you for life.”
Monday was scheduled to be the start of Pulliam’s trial, but Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King rescheduled the trial to allow Pulliam’s recently court-appointed attorney, Barbara Brown, more time to prepare for trial.
Pulliam now is scheduled to stand trial for first-degree murder on Aug. 5.
Pulliam in December was transferred from William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston to Southwestern Regional Jail after seven months of treatment to obtain competency to stand trial. Along with his transfer order was an order for jail staff to provide Pulliam with medicine as prescribed by a doctor at the hospital.
A report from a doctor at Sharpe Hospital indicated Pulliam was competent to stand trial. The report was filed under seal as part of the court record. Pulliam also has been found criminally responsible for the crime, meaning he knew the difference between right and wrong when he shot Means.
Pulliam, who is white, shot and killed 15-year-old Means, who was black, on Nov. 21, 2016, near the intersection of Washington and Nancy streets in the East End after a verbal altercation after the teenager and the man bumped into one another, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.
During a police interview after his arrest, a Charleston police detective reported Pulliam said, “The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street,” after Means died.
The case at the time received national attention, but that attention has lessened over time.
“People think Pulliam already had a trial and got sent to prison,” said James Means’ aunt, Teresa Means.
For Adkins and her family, Monday’s continuance for Pulliam’s trial was another delay of resolution.
“You can sit here and say this man is in jail already, but that doesn’t mean anything,” Adkins said. “It’s not like my son’s getting any peace or my family’s getting any closure.”
Teresa Means said there’s only one way her nephew will be able to rest in peace — when Pulliam stands trial.
“You was man enough to stand up and pull the trigger,” Means said. “Be man enough to stand up and face the consequences for what you did. There’s no way around it.”
Adkins said she also was frustrated that she almost missed Monday’s hearing. She said she heard about it through word-of-mouth, and she called King’s courtroom multiple times before getting it confirmed and learning there was a motion for continuance.
“I’m getting all [my] information from the news or from somebody out on the street or me calling, myself,” Adkins said. “They’re not reaching out. They’re not helping me.”
Kanawha Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Don Morris briefly answered questions from Means’ family after the hearing, and a late afternoon call to Morris wasn’t returned.
“Had this been James shooting [Pulliam], he would’ve been sentenced to [a juvenile facility] then sentenced to prison,” Adkins said. “This is not fair. My son needs justice.”