CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Kanawha County judge said Tuesday he doubts the validity of the murder and kidnapping charges against Ethan Samuel Chic-Colbert, who is accused of beating his girlfriend while pulled over on an interstate highway. The incident led to the death of the woman's 11-year-old son, who ran into traffic and was struck by a car.
In May, a grand jury indicted Chic-Colbert on charges of murder, kidnapping, domestic battery and several counts of child neglect creating a risk of serious injury and death for the March 4 beating of Lynitrah Woodson and the death of her son, Jahlil Clements.
During a pretrial hearing Tuesday, Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom asked Kanawha County assistant prosecutor Dan Holstein to prepare a detailed brief describing the state's evidence of kidnapping and murder. State law allows prosecutors to charge defendants with murder if a person dies during certain crimes, such as kidnapping or burglary.
In this case, prosecutors argue that murder charges against Chic-Colbert should stick because he essentially held Woodson against her will while Clements ran into traffic.
"Quite honestly, while this a horrible, tragic event, I don't know that kidnapping has taken place," Bloom said during Tuesday's hearing. "I'll be candid with you, it seems weak at this point."
On March 4, Woodson was driving Chic-Colbert, her son and two other children home from a skate park on Corridor G when she and Chic-Colbert began arguing, Holstein said.
During the argument, Woodson tried to call her mother, causing Chic-Colbert to beat her, Holstein said.
"He basically exploded on her -- punched her so hard that her head was bouncing off the glass," Holstein said. "The only thing she could do was bring the car to a stop."