Six months after the fact, the Wood County grand jury has found Wood County sheriff's deputies acted within the scope of their authority when they fatally shot Jody Wilson on March 17 outside his mother's Lubeck home.
After months of speculation, rumor and suspicion, the names of the three deputies involved in the shooting were confirmed by the grand jury report: Sgt. Brett Pickens and deputies Zack Schaad and Cory Six.
The grand jury report said Wilson was under the influence of an illegal substance at the time of the shooting.
"At some time after the officers arrived on the scene, Mr. Wilson exited the home armed with an AR15-type rifle and a holstered handgun," the grand jury report stated. "He charged at the officers with the rifle raised and shouting obscenities, at which times the officers attempted to retreat."
The report further states Wilson then fired on the three deputies. Schaad, Pickens and Six returned fire in self defense, the grand jury concluded.
Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy blamed a backlog at the state police crime lab, which was analyzing evidence gathered at the scene, for the length of time to conclude the investigation and turn it over to the grand jury.
Throughout the ordeal, Sandy praised the manner in which the deputies handled the situation.
There have been many rumors surrounding the handling of this case, and attempts by the media to learn specifics of it were blocked, saying all would be revealed with the grand jury ruling.
With the case having been through the investigative process and having been presented to the grand jury, The News and Sentinel filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Prosecutor Jason Wharton's office last Monday for the case file and the 911 call that summoned the sheriff's department to the Lubeck home.
On Friday afternoon, Wharton provided a DVD containing about 2 gigabytes of information compiled by his office, state police, the medical examiner's office, etc., in response to the FOIA.
Citing West Virginia code exemption to the FOIA, Wharton did not turn over the 911 call Jody Wilson's mother says she made, nor a transcript of that call because it would identify the caller in violation of state code, Wharton said. The 911 calls made earlier on the day of the shooting to the 911 Center also were not released, with Wharton citing the same statute.
Understandably and with no objection from the newspaper, Wharton did not release autopsy photos, crime scene photos showing Wilson's body or photos of shotgun wadding bearing what appeared to be Wilson's blood.
Grand jury materials also were excluded, with Wharton citing state statute barring their disclosure.
Needless to say, it will take The News and Sentinel awhile to go through all the audio tapes, reports, interviews, diagrams, autopsy reports, toxicology reports , etc., but considering the controversy surrounding the case and the potential civil suits that could result, we feel we would not be doing due diligence if we didn't take the time and examine the information.
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