POINT PLEASANT — A special prosecutor has been requested to represent the state in the upcoming murder trial of Steven L. Adkins, Jr., 26, Apple Grove.
Adkins is to go on trial at 9:30 a.m., April 9 in Mason County Circuit Court for the murder of René Gonzalez.
The original request to disqualify the Mason County Prosecuting Attorney and his staff from the Adkins case was made by former Prosecuting Attorney Damon Morgan and filed in the office of Circuit Clerk Bill Withers. Judge David W. Nibert granted the motion back in December and filed a request for appointment of a special prosecutor with the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorney’s Institute, also back in December.
At the time, the reason for the request stated: “The upcoming Prosecuting Attorney of Mason County, West Virginia, has a conflict and/or his former law office associate represented the defendant and/or co-defendant in this case.”
Adkins was originally charged with murder and conspiracy in the Gonzalez case along with Matthew C. Woods, 25, Gallipolis Ferry and Chad W. McCallister, 31, Apple Grove. New Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Craig Tatterson was appointed to represent Woods last January when he was a private attorney. Tatterson asked to be removed from Woods’ case to avoid any possible future conflicts of interest and another attorney was appointed.
This new attorney represented Woods when he eventually accepted a plea deal with the state and during that plea hearing agreed to provide testimony in the cases against McCallister and Adkins.
Woods testified at his own plea hearing that McCallister had called him to ask that he give a “buddy” a ride. The “buddy” was later identified by Woods as Adkins, the man law enforcement believes actually shot Gonzalez. Woods said he went to McCallister’s home on Millstone Road where the three men entered into a plan to “rob and maybe assault” Gonzalez — during this questioning, Woods never used the word “murder.” However, when questioned further, Morgan asked if all three men knew of the possibilities of robbing or causing harm to Gonzalez, which Woods confirmed. Woods testified he drove Adkins to Gonzalez’s home, Adkins departed the car and was out view when Woods heard two gunshots. Woods said Adkins came back to the car and told Woods he’d shot Gonzalez.
Both Woods and McCallister have since accepted plea agreements. Woods pleaded guilty to second degree murder last year and was sentenced to a definite term of 10 years with the department of corrections by Judge Nibert. McCallister pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced earlier this month to 10 years with the department of corrections, also by Judge Nibert.