Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 11, 2013

Probable cause found in shooting that wounded Mercer man

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON —  Investigators testified Thursday that a Mercer County man facing charges of malicious wounding and attempt to commit a felony, murder, told them that he had intended to kill a man he allegedly shot Dec. 31, 2012 at Beeson Road.

David Cline, 31, of Beeson Road appeared for a preliminary hearing before Magistrate Rick Fowler. After hearing testimony from two members of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department, Fowler ruled that there was probable cause and forwarded the case to the Mercer County Grand Jury.

Cline was arrested after he allegedly shot and wounded Scotty Coomes, 53, of Beeson Road. The investigating officer, Detective D.W. Sparks Jr., said prior to Thursday’s hearing that he did not know about Coomes’s present condition. Hospital rules regarding patient privacy often do not allow the release of this information to officers.

Deputy W.E. Rose testified that he was the first officer on the scene after the shooting was reported approximately 11:30 a.m. that day. A member of Coomes’s family was transporting him to the hospital when Deputy E.P. Parks stopped their vehicle near Mills Grocery so Coomes could be transferred to an ambulance.

Rose said it had been determined that the shooting had taken place on Beeson Road outside the victim’s home. Cline drove up the scene soon after Rose and Sgt. S.J.  Cary arrived.

“We drew our weapons,” Rose recalled.

Cline cooperated and was taken into custody. He had an empty holster and said that he didn’t have his gun because his father, who had arrived at the scene after the shooting, had taken it and thrown it away. Sgt. Cary later found the gun, a .45 Judge Taurus revolver, on top of a nearby woodpile.

After being read his Miranda rights, Cline said he understood his rights and agreed to talk, Rose said. Cline then stated that he had shot Coomes and talked about what had led to the shooting. Cline recounted how he had argued with Coomes on previous occasions and had shot him three times that morning. Sparks later testified that the revolver, which can hold five rounds of ammunition, had been loaded with three shots. The casings were still in the gun.

“He said it had come to him in a dream, that Scotty Coomes was going to die,” Rose said.

While being questioned by Cline’s attorney, Tom Czarnik, Rose recalled that Cline said that the shooting incident had “scared him.” He also stated that Cline had tried to help officers find the weapon.

The revolver had been loaded with 410 No. 8 birdshot, Rose said. Two boxes of heavier, and more dangerous, ammunition were found in Cline’s pick-up truck.

Detective Sparks said that he also spoke to Cline at the scene and later at the sheriff’s department headquarters. Cline stated, “I took a bad person off the streets,” Sparks said.

When Cline was asked how he had done this, he replied, “shot him,” Sparks said. “He said ‘I had all the intentions of killing him today.’”

While being questioned, Cline describe how he had been at his grandmother’s home the day before the shooting when he spotted a bird of prey.

“’I saw an eagle fly by and then it hit me that I had had enough,’” Sparks recalled Cline stating.

Cline was “very cooperative, and seemed kind of sad and upset,” during the interview and did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but the cooperation suddenly ended, Sparks said.

Sparks said that Cline then stated, “’I’ll talk to somebody else, but not you,’” adding that Cline said Sparks was “in cahoots” with the victim’s family.

When Czarnik asked if a gun residue test had been done on Cline’s hands, Sparks said one had been conducted. He did not know if the results would be ready in time for the February session of the grand jury. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John McGinnis said at the end of the hearing that there was sufficient evidence to find probable cause.

Cline appeared that morning in Mercer County Circuit Court for a bond hearing before Judge Derek Swope. No bond was set at that time, and a new hearing date had not been scheduled, according to information at the Mercer County Circuit Clerk’s Office. Cline was remanded back to the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver.■