EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSWAYNE CASE DROPPED
from Eyewitness News Online
Murder Charges Dismissed Against Man Who Claimed Self-Defense
Reported by: Bethany Simmons
Web Producer: Bethany Simmons
Also Contributing: Darrah Wilcox
Reported: Aug. 15, 2012 11:12 AM EDT
Updated: Aug. 15, 2012 11:07 PM EDT
Huntington , Wayne County , West Virginia
Andrew Burgess left the Wayne County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon a free man after a murder charge against him was dismissed.
Magistrate Randy Wiles found the state did not provide enough evidence to prove Burgess intentionally killed Thomas Epperly this weekend during a fight near the Rich Oil gas station in the Westmoreland area of Huntington.
Several witnesses replayed the scene on the stand, including Epperly's girlfriend, Angela McCoy. McCoy said she was in the car during most of the fight, but she got out when she saw a gun being pulled out. She testified, "All I heard was Tom say, ‘Shoot me,’ and he shot him, and he fell." McCoy said she is unsure of what caused the fight.
Dustin Adkins, who was one of three friends on motorcycles who were meeting at the gas station that night, testified that Epperly drove past the gas station about three times, and finally yelled out the window to the trio. Adkins says he is unsure what Epperly said, but he said after that, Epperly got out of the car and started a physical fight with him.
Burgess was apparently trying to break up the fight. Adkins testified that Epperly brought out a knife and went after Burgess, lunging at him with the weapon several times. After trying to back off several times, Adkins said Burgess told Epperly he had a gun on him. He pulled the gun out, and Adkins said Epperly tried to shove the gun away from him. Burgess reportedly fired three shots. Epperly died on the way to the hospital.
Adkins said on the stand, "I believe if he hadn't gotten him off of me, he'd have probably beat me to death right there, or possibly even stabbed me. I'd be dead. I'm 100 percent certain of that."
State troopers also testified that all evidence collected so far shows that the two sides had never met, and that Epperly was the initial aggressor. They did recover a knife on the scene.
Burgess, who has a permit to carry a weapon, has no criminal history. He was released from the Western Regional Jail Wednesday afternoon. Charges could be refiled in the case if new evidence is presented in the future.
A Wayne County magistrate has dismissed murder charges against the suspect in the shooting death of a man this weekend.
Anthony Burgess appeared in Wayne County Magistrate Court Wednesday in front of Magistrate Randy Wiles, who said there is not probable cause to send the case to the grand jury at this time. Wiles also said those charges could be brought up in the future.
Burgess, 25, had been charged with murder after police say he shot Thomas Epperly, 40, outside the Rich Oil Station along Waverly Road on the West End of Huntington late Saturday night. Police say the two men did not know each other, and Burgess claimed the shooting was in self-defense.
Burgess is expected to be released from jail Wednesday afternoon. Stay tuned to Eyewitness News for more on this developing story.
The man who says he shot another man to death in self-defense over the weekend appeared in court Wednesday.
Anthony Burgess, 25, is charged with murder after police say he shot Thomas Epperly, 40, outside the Rich Oil Station along Waverly Road on the West End of Huntington late Saturday night.
Police say the two men did not know each other.
Eyewitness News Reporter Darrah Wilcox is inside Wayne County Magistrate Court and will have more on this story as it becomes available.
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