HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- The man accused of fatally shooting Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum in April will undergo a mental evaluation, a Cabell County judge ordered Wednesday.
Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell said the first-degree murder trial for Tennis Melvin Maynard would begin March 4 in Williamson.
Wednesday's pretrial hearing was the first for Kanawha County prosecutors, who were assigned to the case after former Mingo County prosecuting attorney Michael Sparks recused himself in September. Sparks has since resigned and is expected to plead guilty to an unrelated federal charge.
Farrell requested that Maynard's attorneys and prosecutors come up with a list of questions to ask potential jurors by Dec. 1. The judge hopes the questionnaire will weed out jurors who are related to the Maynard or Crum family, Farrell said.
But he acknowledged that a jury would be difficult to seat in Mingo County with the widespread attention the case has received.
"We will do our absolute best to seat a jury in Mingo County," Farrell said. "If that doesn't become possible then we then will go to alternatives, a plan B that might end up bringing it here [to Huntington]."
Jury selection is set to begin Feb. 3 or 4, a month before the proposed start of the trial.
Police believe Maynard, 38, of Delbarton, shot Crum with a .40-caliber Glock at close range as Crum sat in his cruiser eating lunch in Williamson on April 3. Maynard fled to Delbarton after the shooting, where police said he pointed a gun at Mingo County Sheriff's Deputy Norman Mines. Mines then shot Maynard several times.
Besides murder, Maynard also is charged with fleeing and attempted murder for allegedly pointing a gun at Mines.
Richard Weston, Maynard's attorney, asked that his client undergo a mental evaluation on Wednesday. A mental evaluation has not been conducted on Maynard since he was arrested in April, Weston said.