The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

April 22, 2013

Scarbro man pleads guilty to murder in neighbor’s death

FAYETTEVILLE — A Scarbro man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Fayette County Circuit Court to the murder of his neighbor and was sentenced to life with mercy.

Gavin J. Williams, 26, came before Judge Paul Blake to face charges for the murder of Darrell J. Shrewsbury, an elderly man who died from multiple stab wounds to the chest and throat on Feb. 28, 2012, and was found at his residence the next day.

“I’m very satisfied with the outcome. I think justice was served in this particular case,” said Larry Harrah, assistant prosecuting attorney.

“But it’s a shame. It’s a senseless act of violence, and it was drug-related, of course.”

Williams’ attorney, Scott Stanton, called the case “very sad.”

“Any time there’s this kind of tragedy, it’s not just the victims who had that obvious loss, but the family of the accused also lose a loved one,” he commented.

Several people at the home of Vanessa McGinnis on Wingrove Hill in Scarbro, where Williams lived at the time, told police at the time that they witnessed Williams come back to the residence on the evening of the murder.

They said he had blood on his hands and one heard him make comments to the effect that he had “slit his (...) throat.”

One witness told police that Williams that day had taken seven or eight Klonopin pills, which is, among other things, a potent anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant.

Williams admitted to snorting prescription medication before the event.

In his confession on March 1, 2012, Williams initially denied any involvement in the man’s death.

Gradually, though, he begins to recount the events that led to the murder.

Williams stated that he worked for Shrewsbury on his mobile home several months prior and that the man had eventually accused him of stealing and told him to leave.

The convicted man said it seemed like there as something wrong with Shrewsbury, so he had always tried to tolerate the man’s fits of anger.

But on the evening of the murder, Williams went to Shrewsbury’s house to pick up some videos of his father’s. The man yelled at him to go away.

“From what I understand, the fellow suspected him of breaking into his house before and told him to get off his property, which given Gavin’s state at the time, infuriated him,” said Harrah.

“You would think a normal person who’s not on drugs (...) would cool down, but that wasn’t the case here.”

Williams took his girlfriend, Jennifer Barrett, back to her house and then returned to Shrewsbury’s for another confrontation. The man opened the door a crack and told him to go away and spoke harshly to him.

Williams kicked in the door and a struggle ensued, which quickly escalated.

“He grabbed me by the throat and threw me (...) and he come up to me to hit me and that’s when I grabbed the knife. (...) He hurt me. I thought he was going to kill me,” Williams told police.

Williams began stabbing him and “couldn’t stop.”

“I don’t want to think about it,” he told police, before expressing remorse.

The body was dragged to the rear of the trailer, where police found it covered with a small dump bed from a small tractor trailer and a piece of metal.

They also found a silver cross pendant belonging to Williams in the trailer.

Williams was convicted of burglary in February 2007 and served time in juvenile detention.

Williams must serve a minimum of 15 years before he is eligible for parole, though Harrah stresses that he’s not guaranteed to get it.


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