Suspect contemplated suicide prior to killing
HUNTINGTON, WV -- A local man told police he contemplated suicide moments before he killed a New York man whom he had met just hours earlier, a detective testified Monday.
Anthony Patrick Cole walked two blocks Jan. 26 from his family's house to 7011/2 8th Ave., entered Apartment No. 8 and went into its bedroom with a pistol, Huntington Police Cpl. Cass McMillian testified. Cole told police he pointed the barrel at his head, but one thought of devastating his two younger brothers kept him from pulling the trigger.
The 19-year-old then told police he walked into the apartment's living room, heard a comment from his new acquaintance and fired a gunshot that could forever change his young life.
"He turned around and looked at the victim and said, 'May God have mercy on your soul,'" McMillian testified in recounting Cole's report to police about the killing of Dashawn Gilbert.
The testimony came during a preliminary hearing on a charge that Cole committed first-degree murder in the death of Gilbert.
The two men met the night before, both deciding to stay with the apartment's tenant, who was a mutual friend. McMillian testified the trio ate together, watched a movie and went to sleep.
Public defender Paul Jordan argued Monday that McMillian's testimony fell short of proving premeditation.
Cabell County Magistrate Darrell Black disagreed. He ordered Cole to stay behind bars, while his case is presented to a grand jury for consideration of a possible indictment.
McMillian testified Cole had been staying at various places since leaving his mother's house Dec. 20, 2010, the date Cole was accused of robbing a 24-year-old at gunpoint in Huntington.
Cole's friends say the transformation from a high school athlete with a contagious smile to a man charged with homicide is surprising. Kelly Barry, 17, watched Monday with tears and dismay as McMillian testified about a Facebook post on Cole's page saying, "I couldn't do it because of my two younger brothers."
Barry recalled reading that post. It prompted her to send a text message asking Cole if he was OK. He replied with "Good-bye," she said after court.
"It was scary," she said of reading the initial post. "I thought, with the way he carried himself, that his life was going OK and everything was fine, but I guess he was good at covering his feelings."
Monday's hearing attracted friends and family representing both Cole and Gilbert.
Eva Jones said Gilbert, the father of her child, moved to Huntington to be closer to them. Jones and her mother had relocated, seeking a change of atmosphere from the bustle of New York.
"I don't believe it," she said of his death. "He was a good dude."
McMillian testified officers immediately sought Cole's help in the investigation since he had slept at the apartment. His elusiveness and Facebook postings then made him a possible suspect.
McMillian cited the would-be suicidal posting and two others. He paraphrased one saying the author wrote, "I can only lie when it benefits myself." The other simply said Cole was in the country.
Cole's video-recorded confession sealed the arrest. McMillian testified Cole told police he left the 8th Avenue apartment, walked south toward a friend's house and tossed the gun over a hillside from Miller Road. He described it as a small, silver handgun.
Morgan Rowsey, 24, said she believes that description matches the gun a man used as he hit and robbed her at gunpoint Dec. 20, 2010, in the 2000 block of 7th Avenue. That incident led to additional charges of first-degree robbery and fraud against Cole.
Rowsey said she wants justice, all while saying she has a heart of forgiveness for her alleged attacker.
"In that moment, you're in survival mode," she said. "It's not until after the fact -- when every fiber in your body is screaming at you, 'This was wrong,' 'This guy had a gun to your head,' 'He could have killed you' -- that's when the fear kind of hits you."
Assistant prosecutor Lauren Plymale dismissed the robbery and fraud case Monday, but vowed it was a tactical move that will not prevent her from prosecuting the hold-up in circuit court. She said the dismissal was aimed at limiting the amount of evidence shared at Monday's hearing