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Marion teen's trial put off

by James Fisher

REGIONAL WRITER

FAIRMONT -- The Nov. 29 murder trial of a Marion County teen accused of taking part in the beating death of a 26-year-old Grant Town man July 4 has been canceled by Marion County Circuit Judge Rodney Merrifield, although no official order has been filed in the circuit clerk's office.

The trial of Jared Wilson originally was scheduled to be held in Ohio County, said Merrifield's secretary, Carol Harris, but Merrifield was informed by Ohio County Chief Circuit Judge Martin Gaughan that there were not enough jurors to hold the trial this term. Merrifield was out of town Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

Harris was unsure when Ohio County's next court term begins, but said that Merrifield had canceled the trial and decided to let incoming Circuit Judge-elect David Janes handle any further scheduling in the matter.

The trial of Wilson's co-defendant, David Parker, is still slated to start Dec. 11 in Raleigh County, Harris said.

A hearing is set for 9 a.m. Monday in Marion County on several defense motions, including whether statements and confessions that Wilson and Parker gave to police the night of the alleged murder would be admitted as evidence.

At a previous hearing, Merrifield, without comment, approved defense requests of a change of venue.

The teens are charged with beating and kicking to death Arthur C. "J.R." Warren in a Grant Town house and then running over him with a car to disguise the injuries as a hit-and-run.

Issues still before Merrifield include defense claims that Sheriff's Detective C.L. "Chip" Phillips failed to properly notify the boys of their right to an immediate detention hearing and that Phillips delayed moving the boys from Grant Town to the courthouse so he could elicit the confessions -- an accusation denied by the detective.

Delaying Wilson's trial until next year could pose problems because neither Merrifield nor Prosecutor G. Richard Bunner, who have been involved with the case since the beginning, were re-elected.

Neither Janes nor prosecutor-elect Susan Riffle, who will begin their respective terms Jan. 1, were available for comment Thursday.

Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at jfisher@exponent-telegram.com

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