WSAZ | West Virginia | News

UPDATE: Shawn Lester Gets an Additional Six Years for Gun Charges

By: Anna Baxter, Brooks Jarosz, WSAZ News Staff Email
By: Anna Baxter, Brooks Jarosz, WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 12/10/12 @ 5:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Shawn Lester, the accused Kanawha Valley sniper, was sentenced to an additional six years in prison for unrelated federal firearms charges Monday.

The charges stem back to 2007 when Lester was caught on camera with a shotgun. At the time, he had prior felony convictions for grand larceny and drugs and was not allowed to have firearms.

He pleaded guilty to the charges in November.

The six-year sentence will run consecutively with a 40-year sentence that Lester is currently serving for one of the three sniper murders.

The victims' families were upset this is how nine years of waiting has come to an end. They say the investigation took a wrong turn early on and Charleston Police detectives were the ones who ultimately cracked the case.

"I don't care if he got 50 more years; he isn't serving a day more for murder then what he got from the state," Larry Patton said.

"We want to know why the FBI or whoever refused to follow the real killer early on," Okey Meadows said. "They could have solved this in our opinion in a few years probably -- had much better results. It will never be over, your loved one's gone."

The sentence hearing was only expected to take an hour, but lasted more than four hours after new testimony was heard and forced the judge to increase Lester's sentence.

Sandra Shaffer was called to the stand and told the court she witnessed Lester saw the end off of a shotgun. Shaffer says she would see Lester with guns several times a week.

Shaffer testified she knew drugs were being sold on her property along Hughart Drive near Sissonville. She also says her late husband Rodney Shaffer Sr. would give Lester drugs.

There was a safe room in the home stocked with tools, valuables and guns. Shaffer says Lester would go into the room regularly and take guns out of the safe.

Lester's attorney told the court that Shaffer's testimony was unreliable, saying it didn't match up with previous statements and police interviews.

A police informant also took the stand and testified about three separate recording. In them, Lester threatens to kill a man for pills. The informant told the court Lester is dangerous.

When asked if he had anything to say to the court before his sentencing, Lester replied, "I don't think it would do any good, no sir."

Before handing down his sentence, the judge responded saying, "You are an individual for whom the public needs protection, he said. "There is a streak of violence that needs to be dealt with."

Lester's sentence was increased from 46 months to six years for each of the two counts which will run concurrently. In exchange for Lester's guilty plea, the federal drug charge was dropped.

As referenced earlier, Lester is currently serving a 40-year sentence in connection with the sniper case.

This summer, Lester pleaded guilty to his involvement in the murder of Jeannie Patton, one of the sniper victims. As part of that plea, first-degree murder charges were dropped in the sniper killings of Patton, along with Okey Meadows Jr. and Gary Carrier Jr.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 11/14/12 @ 2 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Testimony is underway in the sentencing hearing for Kanawha Valley Sniper, Shawn Lester.

He pleaded guilty last month to being a felon in possession of a firearm and having a shotgun while using and being addicted to pain pills.

Prosecutors are pushing for a maximum sentence. They have called witness Sandra Shaffer to the stand to testify.

Shaffer told the court, she witnessed Lester saw the end off of a shotgun. She also witnessed him walking around with the gun several times.

Shaffer testified she knew drugs were being sold on her property on Hughart Drive near Sissonville. She also says her late husband Rodney Shaffer Sr. would give Lester drugs.

There was a safe room in the home stocked with tools,valuables and guns. Shaffer says Lester would go into the room regularly and take guns out of the safe.

Lester's attorney told the court, Shaffer's testimony was unreliable saying it didn't match up with previous statements and police interviews.

Charleston detective, Lt. Steve Cooper was also called to the stand.

Cooper testified about a person arriving at his office with three recordings. One was a voice mail Lester left on the man's phone, another was a phone conversation the man had with Lester and the third was a face to face meeting between the two.

Cooper testified the recordings captured threats Lester made against another man who had more than $44,000 in Opana pills.

The man who turned over the recordings is currently on the stand testifying.

Lester faces decades in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

He is currently serving a 40 year sentence in connection with the sniper case.

This summer, Lester pleaded guilty to his involvement in the murder of Jeannie Patton, one of the sniper victims. As part of that plea, first-degree murder charges were dropped in the sniper killings of Patton, along with Okey Meadows Jr. and Gary Carrier Jr.

We have a crew in the courtroom. Keep clicking WSAZ.com for updates.



UPDATE 11/14/12 @ 2 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The man at the center of the 2003 sniper shootings pleaded guilty in federal court to unrelated gun charges, for a second time.

Shawn Lester, 37, of Charleston, pleaded guilty Wednesday to being a felon in possession of a firearm and having a shotgun while using and being addicted to pain pills.

Lester originally pleaded guilty to the charges, but he later withdrew that plea. That was after U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver rejected the first plea deal saying the agreement didn't reflect the crime.

Copenhaver was upset the federal plea agreement recommended Lester's sentence run at the same time as his state sentence.

This summer, Lester pleaded guilty to his involvement in the murder of Jeannie Patton, one of the sniper victims. As part of that plea, first-degree murder charges were dropped in the sniper killings of Patton, along with Okey Meadows Jr. and Gary Carrier Jr.

The victims' families were in the courtroom Wednesday and hope the judge will sentence Lester to the maximum.

"It just breaks my heart because he chose to take her life, and Okey's and Gary's," Patton's sister Karen Mance said. "Nobody made him and I think he should be punished to the fullest that he can get."

Mance added, "Maybe someday I'll be able to let go of the anger but right now -- I just can't. This case has been full of surprises and I just hope that it turns out the best for the victims."

Lester admitted to the federal firearms charges Wednesday for illegally unloading a 12-gauge shotgun and holding another firearm while addicted to prescription drugs. Under the agreement, a federal drug charge was dropped.

Lester responded to those charged during his exclusive interview with WSAZ.com back in July.

"I held this weapon for literally under a minute," Shawn Lester said. "And I'll be going to prison for that."

Lester faces up to 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine and up to a three years supervised release.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 10.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 11/14/12 @ 11:30 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The man at the center of the Kanawha Valley sniper shootings was back in federal court.

Shawn Lester pleaded guilty Wednesday to unrelated firearm charges.

The federal judge recently rejected the first plea deal saying the agreement didn't reflect the crime.

Wednesday Lester admitted to illegally unloading a 12 gauge shotgun and having another firearm while addicted to prescription drugs.

Under the agreement, the federal drug charge was dropped.

Lester faces up to 20 years in prison and a half million dollar fine.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on December 10 at 1:30 p.m.



UPDATE 11/1/12 @ 10:50 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Federal court records indicate a Charleston man involved in the 2003 sniper shootings that terrorized the Kanawha Valley has a new plea bargain on gun and drug charges after a judge rejected an earlier deal.

The Associated Press reports prosecutors have filed a motion seeking another hearing to allow Shawn Thomas Lester to plead guilty.

U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver, in September, rejected the first deal, saying the punishment wasn't sufficient.

Lester had been charged with distributing oxycodone and cocaine and with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Lester was sentenced in state court earlier to 40 years on a second-degree murder charge in the shooting of Jeanie Patton. In exchange, other charges were dropped in the deaths of Patton, Okey Meadows Jr. and Gary Carrier Jr.



UPDATE 9/26/12 @ 2:40 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The case against the man at the center of the 2003 sniper shootings in the Kanawha Valley is not over just yet.

During a hearing Wednesday, a federal judge rejected Shawn Lester's plea agreement on unrelated drug and firearm charges. This plea agreement was contingent on the state charges where Lester pleaded guilty in the death of Jeanie Patton last month. Patton was one of the three victims in the sniper shootings.

Now the judge in the state's case must decide if Lester can withdraw his plea in the sniper case.

According to the federal judge, Lester could choose to withdraw his plea in the firearms case. A new trial date of November 14 has been set for the drug and firearm charges.

The federal prosecutor asked the judge for two months to prepare for the trial, but the judge said that was too long and gave him a month from when the original trial was scheduled.

Lester is accused of two federal firearm charges in 2007, unrelated to the sniper case. Lester was also indicted on a drug charge for distributing oxycodone and cocaine from at least 2005 through March 2011 near Sissonville, according to court records.

During Wednesday's hearing, the judge rejected the plea agreement because he didn't believe it provided enough punishment for the firearm charges.

"This plea does not provide reasonable punishment for firearms offenses and provides nothing in respect to the drug offenses which is dropped in the agreement," U.S. Judge John Copenhaver said.

Under the federal plea agreement that was rejected, Lester would have pleaded guilty to two firearm charges, but the federal drug charges would have been dropped.

Each of the two firearms charges would have carried a 10-year sentence. The sentence would run concurrently with the state charges, where Lester is currently serving 40 years in prison in the death of Patton.

During the hearing, a U.S. attorney defended the plea agreement saying this would assure Lester would serve time for the charges and allow the case to be put to rest.

After a short recess, Lester withdrew his original guilty plea for both federal firearms charges.

When Lester talked exclusively to WSAZ back in July, he denied that he distributed drugs.

"I was using pain medication at the time which I obtained illegally so yes, I was involved in drug use," Shawn Lester said. "But not in the trafficking of drugs, no."

Lester admits he only had several friends who were involved in the vicious cycle of drug use.

"The circle probably just through the people that I've known and come across in life but as far as drug trade, no," Lester said.

Last month, Lester was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in the Kanawha Valley sniper shootings.

Lester pleaded guilty to being involved in the killing of Jeanie Patton.

As part of the plea agreement, the murder charges against Lester in the deaths of Gary Carrier Jr and Okey Meadows Jr were dropped.

The victims' families attended Wednesday's hearing. One of the family member's tells WSAZ.com he was upset about what happened because he doesn't want to have to go through this all over again -- he wants closure.

"He [Lester] ain't got nothing to lose...if he gets more time or less time, he doesn't have anything to lose," Larry Patton, sniper victim's father said. "He should have gotten three death sentences or three life sentences in this state. It's still messed up. It's still unsolved."

The families of the three sniper victims are now left wondering what's next and expressed frustration after the hearing.

"I mean it was supposed to be taken care of now and I mean it seems that he has more rights than anyone. I mean he took three people plus more people's lives," Greg Carrier, sniper victim's brother. "They tell us one thing, it goes to another and now it's you know all up in the air again."

Lester's parents did not attend Wednesday's hearing.

"It's just a game it seems like and we're not even involved. We're invited to watch them play the game," Patton said.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 9/26/12 @ 2:15 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The man serving prison time in one of the three sniper-style shootings in the Kanawha Valley was back in court Wednesday. This time he faced a federal judge on unrelated charges.

Shawn Lester was scheduled to be in court for a plea hearing on the drug and firearm charges. Investigators say Lester distributed oxycodone and cocaine from at least 2005 through March 2011 near Sissonville, according to court records.

During Wednesday's hearing, the judge rejected the plea agreement because he didn't believe it provided enough punishment for the firearm charges.

Under the federal plea agreement that was rejected, Lester pleaded guilty on two firearm charges, but federal drug charges would have been dropped.

Each of the two firearms charges would have carried a 10 year sentence. The sentence would run concurrently with the state charges, where Lester is currently serving 40 years in prison in the death of Jeanie Patton. She's one of the three victims shot during the sniper shootings in the Kanawha Valley.

The state defended the plea agreement saying this would assure Lester would serve time for the charges and allow the case to be put to rest.

After rejecting the plea, the judge called a recess. Lester will now have to decide to withdraw his plea or enter a new plea.

When Lester talked exclusively to WSAZ back in July, he denied that he distributed drugs.

"I was using pain medication at the time which I obtained illegally so yes, I was involved in drug use," Shawn Lester said. "But not in the trafficking of drugs, no."

Lester admits he only had several friends who were involved in the vicious cycle of drug use.

"The circle probably just through the people that I've known and come across in life but as far as drug trade, no," Lester said.

Last month, Lester was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in the Kanawha Valley sniper shootings.

Lester pleaded guilty to being involved in the killing of Jeanie Patton.

As part of the plea agreement, the murder charges against Lester in the deaths of Gary Carrier Jr and Okey Meadows Jr were dropped.

We have a crew at the courthouse. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/16/12 @ 2:10 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The man who admitted to being involved in one of the three sniper murders says he's never distributed drugs.

Shawn Lester appeared in Federal Court in Charleston Thursday to face unrelated federal drug charges.

Lester pleaded not guilty to those charges. He's accused of distributing oxycodone and cocaine from at least 2005 through March 2011 near Sissonville, according to court records.

During WSAZ's exclusive interview, Lester stuck to the story that he's didn't distribute drugs.

"I was using pain medication at the time which I obtained illegally so yes, I was involved in drug use," Shawn Lester said. "But not in the trafficking of drugs, no."

Lester admits he only had several friends who were involved in the vicious cycle of drug use.

"The circle probably just through the people that I've known and come across in life but as far as drug trade, no," Lester said.

Lester was arraigned Thursday afternoon in front of a federal magistrate court judge.

The judge set Lester's trial for October 15, at 9:30 a.m. Pretrial motions will be heard beginning September 26, at 1:30 p.m. in federal court.

If convicted, Lester faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Lester was also indicted on federal firearms charges but he denied those too. Police maintain they have evidence to prove otherwise.

"In one way or another the powers that be will see to it that I spend a long time in prison," Lester said.

According to court records, Lester has been convicted of drug dealing and distributing.

Lester will remain at South Central Regional Jail until the end of his trial. The judge denied bond since he's under the custody of the state, poses a danger to the community and is a flight risk.

Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/16/12 @ 8 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The man convicted in one of the three sniper-style shootings in the Kanawha Valley will be back in court Thursday. This time to face unrelated federal drug charges.

According to court records, Shawn Lester, 37, is accused of distributing oxycodone and cocaine from at least 2005 through March 2011 near Sissonville.

He was indicted on the charges last month.

On Thursday, he will be arraigned on the drug charges at the federal courthouse in Charleston. The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

If convicted, Lester faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Meanwhile, Lester faces 10 to 40 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge in the death of Jeanie Patton. Patton was one of three people shot and killed at gas stations in Kanawha County back in 2003.

Lester was originally charged with three counts of first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Patton, Gary Carrier Jr. and Okey Meadows Jr. However, just hours before his trial was set to begin, Lester pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Patton's death. As part of the plea agreement, the other murder charges were dropped.

Lester is scheduled to be sentenced on that charge later this month.

We will have a crew at the court hearing.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Shawn Lester, who most people know as the suspect in the Kanawha Valley sniper shootings, is among four people indicted on federal drug charges, according to information released Tuesday from U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin’s office.

According to the indictment, Lester, 37, allegedly distributed oxycodone and cocaine from at least 2005 through March 2011 near Sissonville, W.Va. That charge is not connected with the sniper shootings case.

Three other people also were indicted Tuesday on similar charges.

According to a separate indictment filed Tuesday, Gary Britt McFaddin also known as “James Grimm,” 48, of St. Albans, W.Va., allegedly possessed with intent to distribute a quantity of oxycodone.

According to a two-count indictment filed Tuesday, Deshawn King, 33, of Columbus, Ohio, allegedly possessed a firearm on Dec. 9, 2011, and on June 20, 2012, near Huntington, W.Va. King was convicted in May 2002 in the Common Pleas Court of Franklin County, Ohio, of felony aggravated robbery and did not have his rights to possess a firearm restored.

According to a separate indictment filed Tuesday, Alvin Leon Willis, 29, of Haven Park, Mich., was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession with intent to distribute heroin. The two-count indictment alleges that on June 11, 2012, Willis possessed with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin near Huntington.

Willis also allegedly possessed a loaded .32 caliber firearm that same day. Willis was convicted in September 2002 in the Third Circuit Court, Criminal Division in Detroit of felony delivering or manufacturing a controlled substance and did not have his rights to possess a firearm restored.

Willis, Lester and McFaddin each face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted.

King faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WSAZ NewsChannel 3 645 Fifth Avenue Huntington, WV 25701 304-697-4780 WSAZ Charleston 111 Columbia Avenue Charleston, WV 25302 304-344-3521
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 162017325