Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 16, 2014

Fate of suspect charged with running down woman in Bluefield to be decided

PRINCETON — A Mercer County jury will decide the fate today of a woman charged with running down a clerk in a Bluefield store’s parking lot in February 2013.

Dustie Gene Beller, 33, of Arnett, was tried Tuesday before Circuit Court Judge William Sadler on charges including attempt to commit first-degree murder, petit larceny, conspiracy, malicious wounding, and failure to stop and render assistance. Beller was arrested Feb. 8, 2013, after she allegedly ran down a store employee, 21-year-old Mackenzie Ansley of Ballard, in the Tractor Supply parking lot off Cumberland Road in Bluefield.

The incident began approximately 6:30 p.m. that evening when an alarm went off at the store’s chainsaw display, Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler said in his opening statement. A male friend of Beller’s ran out of the store with a chainsaw. When employees pursued him, one of them was hit by a woman who was waiting for him in a Jeep. He later pleaded guilty to petit larceny, Sitler said.

One witness, Christina White of Princeton, testified she was driving past Tractor Supply with her husband when she noticed people in the parking lot and a white Jeep going toward them. She estimated the vehicle was going up to 25 mph.

“The Jeep kept speeding right into them, almost like it was aiming,” White said.

White then testified that the Jeep left the parking lot and ran her vehicle off the road when it passed her. When Sitler asked if White could see who was driving the Jeep, she replied that Beller was the driver. White and her husband followed the Jeep to the Upper Classman apartments off Cumberland Road. Once there, the husband confronted Beller’s friend, who then ran away.

Beller’s attorney, Anthony Salvatore, questioned White about exactly what she saw while driving past the parking lot.

“Can you say you saw somebody run over a human being?” Salvatore asked.

“Yes,” White replied, saying she saw Ansley’s arms go up when the Jeep hit her.

Kelly Morris, the senior-most Tractor Supply employee on duty that night, said she approached the man after the chainsaw display’s alarms went off and asked if she could help him and if he wanted to buy the saw. At first, he said he wanted to purchase it, but then grabbed it off a counter and ran out of the store. Morris said she followed him outside.

Ansley later testified that she ran out of the store, too, because she did not want her coworker to run after a possible shoplifter alone. She then saw the Jeep that Beller was driving, she opened the door and spoke to her.

“I told her not to move,” Ansley said.

Beller instead drove to where her friend was running with the chainsaw toward Cumberland Road. Morris testified that he threw the chainsaw into the Jeep and kept fleeing on foot. White saw the Jeep pick up a male subject minutes later on Cumberland Road.

The Jeep then circled and came back toward the store employees, Ansley said.

“I just turned to get out of the way,” she recalled.

Ansley said she was facing away from the Jeep when it hit her, and suffered two sprained ankles, and suffered severe road rash when it ran over her right leg. She said she was transported to Bluefield Regional Medical Center and missed a month of work. Photographs of her injuries, taken by her family the night of the incident, were shown to the jury.

Testifying on her own behalf, Beller said that Ansley stood in front of her. Beller stood up and put her hands on her hips to demonstrate to the jury. Ansley said during her testimony she did not step in front of the Jeep.

When Sitler asked Beller what had brought her to the Tractor Supply store that evening, she said her friend had picked her up at her mother’s home in Raleigh County, and rode with him to Princeton so he could get some clothes and check his mail. Beller said she had planned to buy some groceries for her children during the trip home.

Beller then described how her friend stopped at a house — she said she could not recall its location — and said he bought drugs, and became high at a small shopping center. She drove after he became intoxicated. He later asked her to stop at Tractor Supply; she said that she did not know about his plan to shoplift.

Sitler asked Beller why she simply did not stay when Ansley told her not to move.

“She scared me,” Beller replied.

“Did she threaten you? Raise a weapon? Put her hands on you?” Sitler inquired.

“She startled me,” Beller said.

Beller told the jury she was trying to keep an eye on her friend while driving. Sitler kept asking her why she kept driving if she wanted to avoid hitting anybody.

“You didn’t care who you hit,” Sitler told Beller.

“Yes, I did,” she insisted.

“Why didn’t you stop?” Sitler asked again.

“I panicked,” Beller replied.

The jury is scheduled to begin deliberating today.

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