[Hpn] Hunington, WV - Three Teens Held in Slaying of Homeless Man - The Herald-Dispatch - July 10, 2002

H. C. Covington H. C. Covington" <icanamerica@bellsouth.net
Thu, 11 Jul 2002 11:22:45 -0500

Three Teens Held in Slaying of Homeless Man
Another homeless man, William Porter, was found badly beaten near King’s body
Males ages 16, 17 and 19 accused in ‘ruthless’ beating of Gerald King Jr.

By REBECCAH CANTLEY-FALK and BRYAN CHAMBERS - The Herald-Dispatch - July 10,

 While escorted by Detective Richard Knight, right, of the Huntington Police
Department on Tuesday, a teary-eyed Jarrett Baily, 19, yells at the media en
route to his appearance before Cabell County Magistrate Johnny McCallister.

HUNTINGTON, WV -- Two juveniles and one adult from Huntington’s West End were
charged with second-degree murder Tuesday in connection with the beating of
Gerald E. "Bird" King Jr., a 52-year-old homeless man.

The juveniles, ages 16 and 17, and the adult, Jarrett Roscoe Bailey, 19, of 1334
Rear Monroe Ave., each face one charge of second-degree murder. The males also
face felony charges of malicious wounding.

Another homeless man, William Porter, was found badly beaten near King’s body on
July 1 along the banks of the Ohio River near 14th Street West.

Porter was in serious condition Tuesday night at St. Mary’s Hospital, according
to the nursing supervisor.

The Huntington Police Department has not yet received the full autopsy report on
King, but injuries to his head, chest and throat were severe, said Capt. Steve

"He was beaten with hands, fists, feet, sticks, whatever," Hall said. "It was
pretty ruthless."

Bailey was arraigned before Cabell County Magistrate Johnny McCallister and was
being held in the Cabell County Jail on $110,000 cash-only bond.

Police department policy is not to release the names of juveniles, regardless of
the charges they face, Hall said. Within the past year, juveniles have been
involved in several high-profile crimes in Huntington, he said.

In May, a 17-year-old, three 19-year-olds and a 21-year-old were charged in
connection with the shooting and robbery of cab driver in the city’s South Side.

"I don’t have any statistics, but the crimes involving juveniles are certainly
more visible and more serious," Hall said.

 One of two West Huntington juveniles is escorted Tuesday from the Cabell County
Courthouse by sheriff deputies. The males were taken to separate juvenile

Both teens appeared before Cabell County Juvenile Court Referee Mike Woelfel
Tuesday afternoon. The 16-year-old will be detained at the North Central
Regional Detention Center in Parkersburg, while the 17-year-old will be detained
in the Southern Regional Detention Center in Princeton, said Cabell County
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Brent Walters.

The teens are scheduled to return to Huntington July 19 for a preliminary
hearing before Woelfel. If Woelfel finds probable cause, an adjudicatory hearing
will be scheduled for each teen, Walters said.

Walters may request that the teens be tried as adults, he said. The request
would have to come at least eight days before the adjudicatory hearings, he

"Anytime there’s a crime dealing with deadly violence, we’re always going to
look at trying juveniles as adults," Walters said, "especially if they’re over
the age of 14."

Information from the public led detectives to the three arrested, Hall said.
Although the department lost 16 officers as of July 1 to layoffs, Detectives
Chris Sperry and Richard Knight worked the case full time, Hall said.

"We probably got 30 to 40 phone calls and people telling officers on the street
information," he said. "Of course, not all of it was accurate, but public input
is what cleared this case."

Hall did not discuss a motive for the beatings, but said there was a
confrontation between the victims and the suspects. "What exactly transpired, we
’ll hold for court," he said.

King’s body was found not far from what he called home for nearly 20 years -- a
tent surrounded by a picnic table, campfire pit, mailbox, makeshift coat rack,
crates filled with cooking utensils used for frying fish from the river and an
American flag flying atop a tree. A sign identified the site as Bird Park, a
reference to his nickname.

Huntington resident Jason Scarberry, a friend of King’s, had found his body.

Scarberry said he sensed trouble the night before the beatings while he was
visiting King when three male teen-agers came across the tent encampment.

The teen-agers claimed they were going fishing, but none of them had fishing
poles, Scarberry said.

"One of the teen-agers threw a beer bottle over the hill, and Bird told them not
to litter because that was his home," Scarberry said. "They called Bird a bum
and got up in his face and asked him what he was going to do about it."

Tensions cooled when the teen-agers left. But Scarberry warned King he might
want to stay somewhere else for the night, he said.

Second-degree murder carries a prison sentence of 10 to 40 years, while
malicious wounding is two to 10 years.

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