by Ron Gregory
HUNTINGTON – After five years, the man accused of murdering Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum as he sat in his cruiser on Second Avenue in Williamson, will apparently go on trial for the killing.
Cabell County Circuit Judge Paul Farrell Jr., appointed as special judge in the case, preliminarily ruled today that Tennis Maynard, 41, is competent to stand trial. Since the 2013 shooting, Maynard had been housed mainly in the William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital at Weston. Earlier, he was deemed incompetent to stand trial.
Reports from doctors at the psychiatric facility formed the basis for Farrell’s preliminary ruling. According to the regional jail website, Farrell is now being held at the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville.
Farrell had ruled earlier that, if assessed competent, Maynard would be charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and felonious fleeing.
Attorneys in the case have 20 days to file a motion for a full competency hearing, the judge said. Maynard’s lawyer, Richard Weston, said he had not decided whether to seek such a hearing. Don Morris, representing Kanawha County Prosecutor Chuck Miller, said he would not ask for a hearing. Miller is the special prosecutor appointed in the case.
Members of Crum’s immediate family, including widow Rosie Crum, have pushed for a trial for Maynard since the April 3, 2013 shooting. Some of them were present in the Huntington courtroom. Daughter Julie Crum-Hall said the family is now “ready to have this behind us.”
Crum was gunned down by Maynard as he sat in his cruiser eating a fish sandwich. Supporters of the sheriff commended his crackdown on illicit drug use in the county and said he was parked on Second Avenue in hopes of observing drug trafficking.
Maynard got away from the scene, which eventually included the presence of now-defrocked Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury. Maynard was eventually captured after pointing a gun at a sheriff’s deputy in Delbarton, according to reports.
A motive for the shooting has never been revealed although various theories have been rumored throughout Mingo County. Crum family members have said they hope testimony in the trial will clear the record.
Rosie Crum was appointed to replace her husband as sheriff and served a partial term before resigning.