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Suspect in Mingo sheriff murder to plead not guilty

CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- The man accused of fatally shooting Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum is expected to plead not guilty to first-degree murder during an arraignment hearing today.

Tennis Melvin Maynard, 37, of Delbarton, is scheduled for arraignment at 1:30 p.m., before Cabell Circuit Court Judge Paul Farrell.

Maynard was indicted by a Mingo County grand jury April 22 on charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and fleeing with reckless indifference.

Although Maynard's arraignment hearing is in Cabell County, the trial would go forward in Mingo County, said Mingo Prosecutor Michael Sparks.

Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury recused himself from Maynard's arraignment, citing a close relationship with Crum.

The trial would come before Thornsbury unless Maynard's attorney, Richard Weston, requests that it be moved out of the county, Sparks said Tuesday.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he asks for a change in venue," Sparks said.

Weston, a Cabell County public defender, has not returned repeated phone calls from the Gazette.

Following his arraignment hearing, Maynard will be ordered held in Western Regional Jail until trial, Sparks said.

State Regional Jail Authority spokeswoman Ashley Bennett said she's not sure if Maynard would require follow-up medical care in jail.

Maynard had been in Cabell-Huntington Hospital after being wounded by a Mingo County sheriff's deputy following a chase that ended in Delbarton.

Authorities said Maynard shot Crum twice in the head from close range with a .40-caliber Glock pistol as Crum sat in his car eating lunch in Williamson on April 3.

Crum had been in office only three months, but had already begun a crackdown on drugs in Mingo County.

The relationship between Crum and Maynard is unclear, other than Maynard belonged to a Mingo County boxing club as a teenager and was coached by Crum. Authorities have said they don't think the shooting was related to Crum's anti-drug campaign.

Mingo Sheriff's Deputy Norman Mines shot Maynard after Maynard allegedly pointed a gun at him.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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