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NEW INFO: Guilty Verdicts Returned in Scioto County Murder Case

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 10/23/13
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) – A jury has found a Lucasville, Ohio, man guilty of murdering his girlfriend's estranged husband.

The Scioto County Common Pleas Court jury deliberated about 2 1/2 hours Tuesday night before finding Jeff Waller, 25, guilty of killing James Thurman, 33, of Lucasville.

Assistant Prosecutor Joe Hale tells WSAZ.com the jury found Waller guilty of murder, felonious assault, one count of tampering with evidence, possession of a dangerous ordinance and possession of a weapon under a disability. He was found not guilty on one of the tampering with evidence counts.

Following the verdict, Waller was sentenced to 20 years to life.

The shooting happened at a trailer in the 800-block of McNamera Brown Road in Lucasville in August 2012.

The Sheriff's Office said Thurman’s estranged wife lived in the trailer, and that Waller was her boyfriend.

Waller’s trial began Monday morning in Scioto County Common Pleas Court.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/22/13 @ 4:30 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) – Jury deliberations are underway in the trial of a man charged with killing his girlfriend's estranged husband.

Prosecutors say Jeff Waller, 25, of Lucasville, Ohio shot and killed of James Thurman, 33, of Lucasville.

The shooting happened at a trailer in the 800-block of McNamera Brown Road in Lucasville in August 2012.

The Sheriff's Office said Thurman’s estranged wife lived in the trailer, and that Waller was her boyfriend.

Waller is charged with murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence and having a weapon under a disability. His trial began Monday morning in Scioto County Common Pleas Court.

The Scioto County Prosecutor's Office says the jury was handed the case about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/22/13 @ 4 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) – Closing arguments are underway in the trial of a man charged with killing his girlfriend's estranged husband.

Prosecutors say Jeff Waller, 25, of Lucasville, Ohio shot and killed of James Thurman, 33, of Lucasville.

The shooting happened at a trailer in the 800-block of McNamera Brown Road in Lucasville in August 2012.

The Sheriff's Office said Thurman’s estranged wife lived in the trailer, and that Waller was her boyfriend.

Waller is charged with murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence and having a weapon under a disability. His trial began Monday morning in Scioto County Common Pleas Court.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/21/13 @ 2 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) – Testimony is underway in the trial of a a man charged with killing his girlfriend's estranged husband.

Prosecutors say Jeff Waller, 25, of Lucasville, Ohio shot and killed of James Thurman, 33, of Lucasville.

The shooting happened at a trailer in the 800-block of McNamera Brown Road in Lucasville in August 2012.

The Sheriff's Office said Thurman’s estranged wife lived in the trailer, and that Waller was her boyfriend.

Waller is charged with murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence and having a weapon under a disability. His trial began Monday morning in Scioto County Common Pleas Court.

Detectives said Waller told them he shot Thurman not during -- but after -- Thurman broke in on the couple.

They also say that Waller told them that Thurman came into the back bedroom in the trailer where all three were staying in and kicked him in the head.

"He said after the altercation, he grabbed the shotgun that was in the same room and shot Mr. Thurman in the midsection,” Detective Denver Triggs said.

The Sheriff said following the shooting, Waller left the scene with a shotgun. Deputies found him walking down the road as they were heading to the scene. Sheriff Donini said Waller then led deputies to a nearby camper where they found the shotgun.

Thurman was airlifted to a Huntington hospital where he died several hours later.

Friends and family of Thurman said he had his own apartment and whose only reason for being at the trailer was to see his kids.

Detectives said the husband, wife and boyfriend did have a plan to all be under one roof -- at least for a short period of time.

The trailer where the shooting happened was destroyed in a fire several weeks after the shooting. At the time it was being investigated as arson.

Waller’s trial is expected to last 2-3 days.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/31/12 @ 4:45 p.m.
SCIOTO COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The lone suspect in a tangled domestic violence murder case was in court Friday morning.

The shooting earlier this week is now connected to an arson investigation. That was after the murder scene -- a small trailer -- burned to the ground.

WSAZ.com is looking at possible motives for both crimes - one motive that many say does not involve a supposed love triangle.

Charged with first-degree murder, Jeff Waller, 24, confessed to shooting James Thurman, detectives say. Thurman, the estranged husband of Waller's girlfriend, was shot once in the stomach Monday night.

Waller told detectives he shot him not during -- but after -- he said Thurman broke in on the couple.

Waller says Thurman came into the back bedroom at the now burned trailer all three were staying in and kicked him in the head.

"He said after the altercation, he grabbed the shotgun that was in the same room and shot Mr. Thurman in the midsection,” Detective Denver Triggs said.

Friends and family of Thurman say he was a loving father who had his own apartment and whose only reason for being at the trailer was to see his kids.

Thurman's cousin Cecily Wallace said, “Anna and Jeff were not supposed to be there. He was supposed to babysit while they were gone. But they never left, and now there's a murder.”

Family friend Garrett Adams added, “He was not living there. He got a ride from his brother.”

But detectives say the husband, wife and boyfriend did have a plan to all be under one roof -- at least for a short period of time.

“The boy and girlfriend were staying in the back room, and Thurman was staying in a front room with the kids,” Triggs said.

As to the suspected arson that burned the empty murder scene trailer down the night after the shooting, investigators, family and friends shared their thoughts.

“We think it may have been retaliation against the wife,” Triggs said.

Adams said, "The fire? I think they were trying to cover up evidence.”

"Maybe the people up that hollow are just sick of this,” Wallace said.

No one reported what was said to be an explosive, fiery blaze -- until about eight hours after the suspected arson began.

On Friday, Waller waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His murder case now goes to a grand jury. Waller remains in jail; his bond is set at $250,000.



UPDATE 8/31/12 @ 11:40 a.m.
SCIOTO COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The case of a man accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend's estranged husband is headed to the grand jury.

Jeff Waller, 24, was in court in Portsmouth, Ohio Friday morning. He is charged with murder and tampering with evidence in the shooting death of James Thurman, 33.

The shooting happened in the 800 block of McNamer Brown Road in Lucasville about 8:45 Monday night.

During Friday's preliminary hearing, the case was bound over to the grand jury.

Bond remains at $250,000 for Waller.



UPDATE 8/29/12 @ 11 p.m.
LUCASVILLE, Ohio (WSAZ) – A trailer that was the scene of a murder Monday night has been destroyed by fire -- believed to possibly be arson, according to information from the State Fire Marshal's Office.

The shooting happened in the 800 block of McNamer Brown Road in Lucasville about 8:45 Monday night.

Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini says 24-year-old Jeff Waller shot and killed 33-year-old James Thurman. The Sheriff says Thurman’s estranged wife lived in the trailer, and that Waller was her boyfriend.

Firefighters were called to the trailer between 11 and 11:30 Wednesday morning only to find the trailer burned to the ground.

An investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s office tells WSAZ.com the fire started in the middle of the night. A neighbor says they heard explosions around 3:30 a.m.

Two arson investigations are underway in Scioto County, and each one is related to two different shootings from Monday night, including the murder that claimed Thurman's life.

Investigators say arson is likely, and the fire is connected to a nearby car-to-car shooting that happened Monday evening, injuring a man.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/28/12 @ 6:30 p.m.
LUCASVILLE, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Murder in Lucasville.

WSAZ.comhas the latest on a crime that left one man dead and another jailed for murder.

It seems a trio combination made for trouble: a husband, wife and the wife’s boyfriend -- all staying under the same roof. On Monday night, that trio did run into trouble -- leaving only two.

Surprised neighbors explained what Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini confirmed.

Charlene Duncan says it was just before 9 p.m. Monday when her friend Anna Thurman, who was living with her boyfriend Jeff Waller along McNamer-Brown Road, called.

Thurman also was with her estranged husband James, who was in to visit their three young children.

Duncan said Anna called her to give the ambulance good directions.

“She said because Jeff had just shot James,” Duncan said.

James Thurman, 33, suffered a shotgun blast to the abdomen and died at the hospital.

Donini said when his deputies were on the way to answer the 911 call, they came upon a man walking on McNamer-Brown Road. As it turns out, it was the murder suspect who Donini says told deputies where the murder weapon was and confessed to shooting James Thurman.

"The girlfriend tells us that she and her boyfriend Jeff Waller were in the back bedroom when her husband James came in," Donini said. "She says James kicked Jeff in the head, and Jeff got a shotgun and shot him.”

Waller, 24, is from Lucasville. He was arraigned Tuesday morning on felony murder and tampering with evidence charges.

Donini says neither drugs nor alcohol was a factor is this case.



ORIGINAL STORY 8/28/12
LUCASVILLE, Ohio (WSAZ) – An estranged husband is dead after being allegedly shot and killed by his wife's boyfriend, according to the Scioto County Sheriff.

The shooting happened at the wife's home in the 800 block of McNamer Brown Road in Lucasville about 8:45 Monday night.

Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini says the victim is James Thurman, 33, of Lucasville.

Sheriff Donini says Jeff Waller, 24, of Lucasville was arrested and charged with murder and tampering with evidence.

The Sheriff says following the shooting, Waller left the scene with a shotgun. Deputies found him walking down the road as they were heading to the scene. Donini says Waller then led deputies to a nearby camper where they found the shotgun.

Following the shooting, Thurman was airlifted to a Huntington hospital where he died early Tuesday morning.

Waller is expected to be arraigned on the charges in Portsmouth Municipal Court on Tuesday.


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