By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
ROANOKE, Va. —
A West Virginia inmate originally charged in connection with the shooting of a Virginia State Police trooper near the state-line border of Mercer and Giles counties was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years in prison on federal charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Steven Dale Branscome, 38, of Barren Springs, Va., currently incarcerated at Mt. Olive Correctional Complex, was indicted earlier this year in connection with a March 2008 incident during which Virginia State Trooper R.W. Hughes was shot by Branscome just inside West Virginia near the Giles County, Va., line.
The shooting of the state trooper sparked a nationwide manhunt. Branscome was spotted a few days later in Floyd County, Va., in a vehicle stolen from Mercer County and with a firearm in his possession. However, he escaped capture in Floyd County, but was nabbed 10 days later, on April 6, 2008, at a Texas hotel. At that point, First Sgt. J.R. Pauley, district commander of the Princeton and Welch detachments of the West Virginia State Police, along with Trooper A.H. Young, traveled to Texas and extradited Branscome back to West Virginia.
Branscome was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, Va., to 427 months in prison. He was given 67 months credit for time already served in West Virginia leaving him with an active 360-month, or 30-year penitentiary sentence to serve, according to Pauley.
Trooper Steve Oliver, an investigator with the Bureau of Criminal Investigations unit of the Virginia State Police, testified at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing about Branscome being spotted in Floyd County, Va., with a firearm in his possession — thus leading to the federal felon in possession of a firearm indictment earlier this year.
“Trooper Hughes was there and his supervisor was there,” Pauley said of the sentencing hearing in Roanoke. “They were happy with the outcome. They were pleased.”
Branscome could become eligible for parole after serving about 25 years of the 30-year sentence.
Branscome was extradited back to Mercer County after being located in the Texas hotel in 2008 and was initially charged with the malicious wounding of a police officer, wanton endangerment, grand larceny and burglary. He was later indicted on a charge of malicious assault.
The indictment handed down Feb. 28 in United States District Court, Roanoke Division, alleged Branscome “did knowingly possess a firearm ... after he had previously been convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year imprisonment.”
— Contact Charles Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org