Alleged intruder shot by victim
September 20, 2010 @ 10:40 PM
LAVALETTE, WV -- A Huntington man died late Sunday night, apparently shot and killed by a resident of the Lavalette home who caught him and an accomplice in the act of burglarizing it.
The shooting happened about 11:11 p.m. in the 5700 block of Lynn Creek Road, in a secluded part of Wayne County about four miles from W.Va. 152.
Criminal complaints charge the masked intruders entered the house with a .38 caliber handgun, duct tape, zip ties and rope. They already had bagged several items to steal, but Wayne County Sheriff Greg Farley said they remained at the house determined to find and steal an $8,000 insurance settlement stemming from the recent theft of a vehicle.
The couple who lived there had arrived home with a 2-year-old son after a night of bowling. Farley said they grew suspicious upon noticing the house was exceptionally dark with its door locked differently than normal.
Criminal complaints charge one of the intruders, Jason Matthew Hall, 28, popped up from behind a counter wearing a blue ski mask as the male resident, Casey Bartram, entered the house.
The two men faced off with separate handguns -- Hall holding a .38 caliber and Bartram with a 9 mm. Bartram was ordered to the ground and then both men, still armed, entangled themselves in an altercation. Bartram then fired one shot, striking Hall just above the left eye.
Farley said Bartram fired his shot in desperation as Hall grabbed the resident's gun hand. He said initial reports that Bartram's girlfriend fired the fatal shot proved to be inaccurate. The case will be presented to a grand jury, but Farley said investigators found no wrongdoing on the part of Bartram.
"It's a good Second Amendment case," Farley said. "A man was able to defend his girlfriend, child and home ... As it stands, we're not going to charge him for defending himself in his home."
After he was shot, Hall fell to the kitchen floor, according to the criminal complaints which charge his accomplice, Gary Shane Maynard, with felony nighttime burglary and first-degree robbery.
"(Maynard) pulled his mask off to (Bartram's) surprise: (Maynard) was his friend," the complaints state. "(Maynard) screamed at (Bartram) that he had just shot his cousin."
Maynard, at that point, ran from the Lynn Creek Road residence. Maynard was captured about five hours later at his own residence in the 4100 block of 5th Street Road, Farley said.
The criminal complaints state Hall and Maynard entered the residence through a kitchen window. The documents charge they cut the phone lines, which Wayne County Sheriff's Cpl. W.R. Wellman said forced Bartram and his girlfriend, Brittany Nikole Stroud, to call 911 from a neighboring house.
Their neighbor, David Smith, lived over the hillside. He recalled being asleep when Stroud, Bartram and the 2-year-old arrived on his doorstep.
Smith, 52, described Stroud to be crying a little bit, but relatively calm and not startled or screaming. He said the robbery victims' were later joined by family members, all of whom stayed at his house and driveway until after 5:30 a.m. when he left for work at an area golf course.
Around noon Monday, a passing vehicle, a single conversation or the rustling of leaves provided the only noise in the quiet and secluded area of Lavalette.
Neither Smith nor other neighbors reported being victimized by recent crime, but Farley said that wasn't the same story for Stroud and Bartram. The sheriff recalled they had been the victims of at least two larcenies and break-ins, both of which remain unsolved.
Farley said investigators believe this past weekend's burglary and prior incidents to be targeted acts against the couple.
"It's probably through their association with some of these people is the reason why they've been getting hit," he said. "They get in the door acting like they're friends, see what you've got and then they come back and get it. That's a good possibility, but that's not fact."
Farley said investigators believe the two intruders had learned of Stroud's insurance settlement through a lengthy relationship with the residents.
Maynard was incarcerated at the Western Regional Jail on a $75,000 bond. Farley spoke well of Maynard's family. The sheriff described any prior run-ins that Maynard had with law enforcement to have been minor.
"I'm sure it's a big shock to them," he said. "I hate that for them, but we have to serve justice here."
Farley was unsure whether Hall had a history of previous arrests.