Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 27, 2012

Judge finds probable cause in Little case

BLUEFIELD — Money was the motive in a brutal Princeton homicide, according to testimony by authorities Tuesday at a preliminary hearing for a Wyoming County man charged with first-degree murder.

Gerald W. Little, 60 is charged in connection with the March 1 homicide of Princeton resident Jerry Buckner. The victim was found stabbed to death inside his home on Honaker Avenue.

Little appeared before Magistrate Wilburn Bolt of Wyoming County, in Mercer County Magistrate Court. Bolt found probable cause to forward the case to the Mercer County grand jury.

Sgt. J.W. Howell, with the Princeton Police Department, testified that a phone call from Jacquelyn Jenkins, one of Buckner’s tenants, led authorities to Little. Jenkins called Howell on March 2. When authorities arrived at her house, Little’s girlfriend Marilyn Sue Straight voiced her concern about Little’s involvement.

Straight told authorities Little had been arguing over money for several days.

“He said he would go get her some money. After that, he left,” Howell said.

Howell said Straight noticed Little’s face was scratched when he returned home around 3 p.m. Howell and Detective David Whited located Little in the VA hospital in Beckley.

“We noticed he had scratches on his neck, eye lids, throat and behind his ears,” Howell said.

In addition to the cuts, Little had also several cuts and abrasions on his hands.

“He said he fell off a truck at truck driving school in Wytheville, Va. Little said he received the cuts on his face from shaving, even the one on his eyelid,” Howell added. “He said he hadn’t seen Buckner in a month and half to two months. He also said he had borrowed $125 in the past”

Howell testified that Little consented to a DNA swab. While at the VA hospital, Howell and Whited received a court order from Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash allowing them to take fingernail scrapings from Little. On March 16, Whited received a call from the West Virginia State Police Crime Lab stating that DNA from the scene matched DNA taken from Little.

At the crime scene, authorities found blood on a pair of green pants, along with blood on pillow cases and sheets in a bedroom. Howell said it appeared someone had been looking or searching for something. Buckner’s body was found in a back room. Authorities also found bloody footprints near the back room.

According to the autopsy report, Buckner died from multiple stab wounds to the neck and throat. Howell believes Buckner was stabbed more than 30 times.

“Buckner also looked to have defense wounds on his hands,” Howell added.

When defensive attorney Derrick Lefler asked about a forced entry, Howell said there was no sign of any forced entry. However, he testified several items were knocked off in the floor in the back room where Buckner’s body was found.

Little was arrested by the West Virginia State Police on six counts of failure to register as a sex offender in Mercer County. According to Howell, Little was at the Southern Regional Jail when they questioned him about his DNA being found at the scene. Little denied any involvement and requested an attorney.

Little has a criminal past, which includes the 2006 voluntary manslaughter of his brother, a kidnapping charge involving his girlfriend at the time and a sexual abuse charge. He was in prison from 2005-2011 before arriving in Princeton in Sept. 2011. In earlier reports, Howell said Little did odd jobs for Buckner at his home on Honaker Avenue.

Buckner’s family attended the preliminary hearing. Former Mercer County Sheriff Harold Buckner said the family is glad to see justice being served for their brother.

— Contact Jamie Parsell at jparsell@bdtonline.com

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