Death Penalty Trial

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Jury selection is underway in the federal death penalty trial of Mingo County residents George Lecco and Valerie Friend.

Prosecutors say Lecco ordered the murder of 33-year-old Carla Collins in April 2005, believing she was a government informant.

He was correct. About a month before her murder, Collins signed up as a federal drug task force cooperating individual.

She had provided information about Lecco, who was later accused of selling cocaine, marijuana and pills out of his Red
Jacket pizza parlor, within two weeks of her death.

Prosecutors say Friend, a 44-year-old North Matewan resident, helped carry out Lecco's order.

Collins was shot and beaten to death in an abandoned mobile home.

Her body was found buried nearby two months later.

A third suspect pleaded guilty to the murder conspiracy and has agreed to testify in the case.

Two of the 13 counts against Friend and the 57-year-old Lecco carry the death penalty.

The trial is being held in Charleston.

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