Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 21, 2012

Murder suspect denied bond

PRINCETON — A Wyoming County man charged with first-degree murder in connection with the March 1 stabbing death of a Princeton man was denied bond Tuesday.

Due to a scabies quarantine at the Southern Regional Jail, Gerald Wayne Little, 60,  appeared via video conference from the Southern Regional Jail before Mercer County Circuit Judge Omar Aboulhosn.

Little is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Jerry Buckner, 57, of Princeton. Buckner was found dead at his Honaker Avenue residence. He died of stab wounds to the neck, according to earlier reports by Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash.

Aboulhosn revoked an earlier $25,000 bond on an unrelated charge of failure to register as a sex offender and denied a new bond. The court said Little presented a danger and was considered a high-flight risk with a criminal history.

Aboulhosn also wrote a letter to the Supreme Court, requesting a special magistrate and special judge be appointed to the case.

“The victim in the case is connected in relation to the courts and judges,” Aboulhosn said.

Jerry Buckner was the brother of former Mercer County Sheriff Harold Buckner. His body was discovered by family friend and magistrate Rick Fowler.

The court appointed Derrick Lefler and Mike Gibson to serve as defense attorneys in the case in both the first-degree murder charge and the failure to register as a sex offender charge.

According to Sgt. J.W. Howell of the Princeton Police Department, Little was arrested last week by the West Virginia State Police on six counts of failure to register as a sex offender in Mercer County.

Howell said authorities were able to connect Little to the murder charge from forensic evidence found at the crime scene and sent to the lab. He also said Little knew the victim.

“He had done a few odd jobs for Mr. Buckner and lived on one of his rental properties. He didn’t rent from him but lived with people who did,” Howell said.

Howell said officials believe Little was planning to rob Buckner at his home on Honaker Avenue. Authorities are still collecting reports from Raleigh and Wyoming counties about Little’s criminal past. According to Howell, Little served time in prison for 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.

“He got out of jail in September and came to Princeton and had been here ever since,” Howell said.

Authorities are not sure why he came to Princeton.

Howell said Tuesday’s arraignment and bond hearing — Little also appeared before Magistrate Jim Dent — will hopefully give the victim’s family closure. He added there is still one more homicide in Princeton the department would like to solve.

Members of the Buckner family attended both court proceedings. Harold Buckner said the family appreciated the department’s hard work.

“I just wanted to express how well the state police and Princeton Police Department  worked on the crime scene and the investigation,” Buckner said.

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