Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

October 3, 2012

Tazewell man gets 20 years in prison on murder charge

GRUNDY, Va. — A Tazewell County man was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday in Buchanan County Circuit Court on a charge  of murder.

Michael Harold Justus, 37, of Raven, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of Donnie Harris in Buchanan County during a sentencing hearing in Buchanan County Circuit Court, according to Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Arrington.

A Buchanan County jury convicted Justus on charges of murder and the use of a firearm during the commission of a murder in June. At that time, the jury recommended a 20-year sentence, Arrington said.

According to Arrington, testimony at trial revealed the incident began on April 1, 2011 when Michael Justus was at his fiancé Wendy Harris’ house with her and her brother, Donnie Harris.

“Wendy Harris called a friend to come and pick her up because Justus was becoming very agitated,” Arrington said. “Ms. Harris then went out into the yard to wait on her ride and her brother Donnie came out to check on her. While the two were talking outside, Justus came out and began making threats and drew back his fist to strike his fiancé. At that point, her brother stepped in, and he and Justus wrestled their way into the home. While in the home, Donnie Harris pinned Justus to the ground and began punching him. Wendy Harris broke up the fight and began trying to alert the authorities concerning Justus’ threats of violence.”

Arrington said after the fight ended, evidence revealed Justus retrieved a 9mm pistol from the house and pointed the pistol at Harris’ forehead. According to witnesses, Justus said “I’ll teach you to mess with me” before firing a single shot into Donnie Harris.

Arrington said the Commonwealth originally argued for Justus to receive a life sentence.

“While the Commonwealth had sought a life sentence, it understood that the jury, in its wisdom and discretion, had seen fit to convict Justus of lesser offense and recommend the 20 year sentence,” Arrington said. “Justus should serve every single day of the jury’s recommended sentence. Mr. Justus claimed that he had acted in self-defense but the evidence clearly and convincingly showed otherwise, and the jury agreed when it returned its verdict. We hope that this result will bring peace and closure to the Harris family.”

Arrington credited investigators with the Virginia State Police and Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office for helping bring the case to trial.

Text Only
Local News
  • Practice scenario nearly identical to real-life tunnel fire

    July 27, 2014

  • Crash... Two transported from Route 460 wreck

    Two people were transported to a Mercer County hospital following a two-vehicle wreck Sunday afternoon on U.S. Route 460 at the intersection with Willowbrook Road.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo


    July 27, 2014

  • Active warrants in Tazewell County July 27 Active warrants in Tazewell County July 27

    The Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office is currently seeking the following individuals. Anyone with information concerning the whereabouts of these individuals can call the sheriff’s office at 276-988-1167 or the Tazewell County 911 Center at  276-988-0902.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_4822.jpg All tunnel lanes open

    Traffic on Interstate 77 was still backed up about 14 miles in Bland County, Va., Saturday evening, but the Virginia Department of Transportation reported at about 6 p.m. that both northbound lanes of I-77 through East River Mountain were open to traffic.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 2 Slideshows

  • First on scene... Firefighters’ story: Working together put the fire out

    Lights in the southern end of the tunnel illuminate an odd design beside the catwalk near the left lane of the northbound tube of the East River Mountain Tunnel that transports I-77 from Virginia into West Virginia. Two firefighters who made the initial assault through the total darkness of the soot and smoke-filled tunnel left those marks as they slid their arms along the catwalk wall on their journey back to the light.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Magnificent collection... A collection worth a billion words

    From the time that Carl Boyd arrived on the Bluefield State College campus in 1953, Boyd, a Bluefield, Va., native, graduate of Tazewell County High School and proud 1957 BSC graduate, was collecting photos, information and artifacts of significance to BSC’s history.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fans flock to Saints training camp for smiles, autographs

    Lois and Jeff Price have something else to brag about.

    July 27, 2014

  • Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers

    When Peter, Paul and Mary sang the popular Pete Seeger song, “If I had a hammer,” John White of the Tazewell County Habitat for Humanity program would know how to put that hammer to good use to help the organization in its efforts to bring affordable housing to local families.

    July 27, 2014

  • Bluefield farmers market Bountiful harvest: Farmers’ Market offers fun-filled day

    With the sun smiling down on local gardeners, the popular Bluefield, Va., Farmers’ Market was swinging into the season with produce galore, plenty of activities and the well-played bluegrass and old time songs of Crawdad Creek filling the market venue to overflowing.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

National and World
Newspaper Deivery Routes Available
Sister Newspapers' News
Local News Videos