The informant balked at accusations that Lester wouldn't have come up with the robbery-murder plot without his help and indicated that Lester was a self-proclaimed hit man that actively sought and carried out "murder for hire" jobs.
"By no means would I have to provoke Shawn Lester to rob somebody," he said.
Implications that Lester might have been involved in slayings outside of the 2003 sniper killings surfaced publicly in August, when the Gazette reported that at least one body might be buried at the Sissonville property of Rodney "Big Rod" Shaffer. Lester stayed on the property in the mid-2000s, often acting as an "enforcer" for Shaffer, who police say helped operate a Kanawha County front for a multimillion-dollar cross-state drug network.
That drug operation proved to be the catalyst for the 2003 killings, investigators say. Patton's husband, Marty Walker, reportedly stole an engine block from Lester's car garage on Rutledge Road. Hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of rare methamphetamine was hidden inside the engine.
Prosecutors and police said Lester killed Patton in revenge for the theft. As part of his second-degree murder plea in state court, Lester did not admit to firing the bullet that killed Patton.
Police say Lester also is responsible for the death of Gary Carrier Jr., who helped Walker steal the engine. A third man, Okey Meadows Jr., was targeted at random to throw off the investigation, police said. All three victims were felled by bullets from a .22 Magnum caliber Marlin rifle.
Shaffer died in 2008.
Lester was the suspect in the killing of another man in Kentucky. The man, Timothy Sigman, was connected to the drug operation and knew inside details of the 2003 killings. Lester killed Sigman because he feared he would go to police, another informant had told investigators.
Lester's federal charges, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg McVey has said prosecutors sought as leverage in the state murder case, were based on two instances in 2007 when a security camera at the Shaffer home captured footage of Lester holding a sawed-off shotgun.
Lester had been previously convicted of a felony and thus was prohibited from carrying a firearm.
Sandra Kay Shaffer, "Big Rod" Shaffer's wife, testified Monday that she installed the cameras because she suspected that her husband was having an affair. She also confirmed that Lester and Shaffer fired the weapons on the property, with Lester on one occasion shooting a neighbor's dog. On another occasion, he put the gun in his pants while he was trying to ward off people who had attempted to confront Rodney Shaffer at the home.
Monday's sentencing marks the end of any pending criminal proceedings involving Lester in the near future. Purdy said in a sentencing memorandum that Lester will likely serve 20 years of his 40-year prison sentence. His federal term will begin immediately after the state term.
He declined to give a statement before Copenhaver handed down the sentence.
"I doubt it will do any good, no sir," Lester told the judge.
Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.tay...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.