Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 21, 2014

Mother’s Day Massacre: Victim’s family speaks

Convicted of murder in 2009, Hicks petitions for new trial

WELCH — The family of a woman murdered more than a decade ago in the so-called “Mother’s Day Massacre” in McDowell County is speaking out for the first time after learning that the man convicted of masterminding the homicide has filed a petition for a new trial.

Amos Gabriel Hicks, 50, of Whitewood, Va., was found guilty of first-degree murder, malicious assault and conspiracy to commit murder in July 2009. The charges stemmed from the homicide of Jamie Chantel Webb, 22, who died as a result of injuries sustained in a shooting that occurred on Payne Fork Road near Jolo on Sunday, May 13, 2001 — Mother’s Day.

Two companions who were with Webb that day, Jeffrey Mullens, 30, of Raysal, and Don Ball, 44, of Jolo, also were shot. Mullens was shot in the head with a 9 mm pistol and, although seriously injured, survived. Ball, too, was shot multiple times but none of his injuries were life threatening.

During the 2009 trial, the shooter, Mose Douglas Mullins Jr., testified that he sold oxycodone for Hicks and was deeply in debt to him. In another part of his testimony, Mullins said Hicks provided him both with money and the handgun to carry out the plan.

In a 2009 story on the outcome of the trial, then-Prosecuting Attorney Sid Bell explained that Mose Mullins “took up the offer to be paid $5,000 for each of these people. Jamie Chantel Webb and Jeffrey Mullins were the targets. Don Ball happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Mullins pleaded guilty in 2002 to second-degree murder and two counts of malicious wounding. He is serving a prison sentence of 44 to 60 years.

A second man at the scene of the shooting, James Blaine “Rusty” Waldon, of Bradshaw, cooperated with investigators and led them to the murder weapon. Waldon was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and was later sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

• • •

In a statement provided to the Daily Telegraph Monday, Webb’s daughters, Crystal Webb, 17, and Amber Estep, 18, both of McDowell County, and her grandmother, Lulabell Webb, called the news of Hicks’ petition for a new trial “depressing.”

“Our mother never got to live her life as a young woman should,” they wrote. “Her life was taken for the sum of $5,000. He not only robbed her of her life, but robbed us as children and family of ours. There is a void in our life that can never be filled.”

Although the murder occurred 12 years ago, the family states they mourned this past Christmas “as if it happened yesterday.”

“Our life will never be whole again,” they wrote, noting “we did get some comfort by knowing Hicks could never walk free to destroy another life and would finally be punished for all the sorrow he brought to our family. Now that is in jeopardy of being robbed from us.”

• • •

Current McDowell County Prosecuting Attorney Ed Kornish said Hicks has filed a writ of habeas corpus and an evidentiary hearing is scheduled this week.

“It is a routine thing that happens after someone has been convicted and an appeal is denied,” Kornish said. However, he added that victim’s family members should be concerned when it is asked that a conviction be reviewed.

“He (Hicks) thinks he’s got good grounds for having it reversed; I don’t. But we will let the judge decide,” Kornish said.

Kornish said Hicks’ attorney has requested a continuation of this week’s scheduled hearing, and he expects the judge to grant the request.

• • •

Sgt. D.W. Miller, of the West Virginia State Police Princeton detachment, was serving in McDowell County at the time of the shooting and recalls it as a heinous crime.

“It was a brutal crime, carried out in broad daylight,” Miller said. “It was kind of shocking, to say the least, the way it was carried out.”

Investigators believe Webb and her companions were lured to the site of the shooting under a pretense of doing drugs, and were then shot when they exited their vehicle.

In a 2008 Daily Telegraph story detailing the arrest of Hicks, Sgt. Miller was quoted as saying, “After Mr. Mullins had shot the three individuals, Jeffrey Mullens and Chantel Webb were lying in the road and he drug their bodies over a hill to conceal them. And Don Ball, who received lesser injuries, was able to run down the road to a house and call for help.”

After the shooting, Mullins and Waldon traveled across Bradshaw Mountain and “threw the murder weapon into the woods,” Prosecutor Bell said in an earlier report. He said they then proceeded into Whitewood, Va., where they washed and disposed of the clothing they were wearing.

“Our evidence was that the motive was to retaliate against the victims for allegedly breaking into the defendant’s (Hicks’) home and stealing some guns,” Bell said, in a story on Hicks’ conviction. “And there was a necklace, too, a gold necklace. The case involved some evidence of drug activity.”

• • •

The family says Hicks’ request for a new trial is causing a physical and emotional strain.

“We have had very little sleep since we were informed,” they wrote in the statement to the Daily Telegraph. “Grandma Lulabell is in failing health ... We know it is taking a toll on her the same as us, and it gets worse with each day that grows near. Gabe (Hicks) has never apologized or shown remorse. We can only pray justice will be carried out.”

— Contact Samantha Perry at sperry@bdtonline.com

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