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Lilly convicted on first-degree murder charge

Chester Lilly III is placed in handcuffs Thursday in Wood County Circuit Court after being convicted of first-degree murder in the June 2019 death of Travis Peters. The jury of eight men and four women also handed down a supplemental verdict of no mercy at sentencing. Lilly can be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

PARKERSBURG — Chester Lilly III was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder without mercy in the June 2019 death of Travis Peters.

The jury of eight men and four women delivered their verdict around 3 p.m. and then heard arguments for and against mercy and deliberated more before delivering a verdict of not recommending mercy at sentencing, meaning Lilly can be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Lilly, 33, was on trial for the murder of Peters who was found June 18, 2019, lying in the grass adjacent to his residence at 2903 Avery St., unresponsive with multiple stab wounds. Lilly, who lived across the street at 2900 Avery St., was named as a suspect and arrested after he turned himself in.

The prosecution maintained Lilly intended to kill Peters when he left his porch to confront Peters about yelling at him. Lilly maintained he acted in self-defense and testified Peters pulled a knife on him after a physical altercation and the two struggled for it which led to Peters being stabbed multiple times.

During the mercy phase, Lilly’s parents Tammy and Bob talked about all the medical (seizures, dealing with depression and being diagnosed as bi-polar) and developmental problems Lilly had and how they continually worked to get him help. They talked about how giving he was in helping to care for his grandfather. His sister, Michelle, talked about how he was always her protector.

“He was a lost little boy and we tried to get him help,” his mother said, adding the family still wanted a chance to eventually have him back in their lives.

Tammy talked about encountering Peters a few times while visiting her son that were not pleasant with Peters insisting Lilly do some yard work and trying to enter the house when Tammy said she would call the police if he didn’t leave.

Peters’ mother, Marcella Waldron, talked about how her son had a traumatic brain injury following an ATV accident where he basically had to learn everything all over again. Throughout his life he called her regularly.

“This has changed my life forever,” she said. “I long to hear his voice again.

“I cry all the time. There is a part of me that’s not here anymore.”

At different points during the mercy phase of the trial, members of Lilly’s and Peter’s families embraced and hugged each other. They continued to embrace one another after the hearing concluded.

During the mercy phase, prosecutors brought up Lilly’s criminal record with him previously being convicted of third-degree sexual abuse against a 14-year-old and malicious assault where he backed someone over in a vehicle.

During trial, Lilly testified Peters called him a “fat***” which is why he went to confront him.

During the mercy phase, Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure said Peters is believed to have also referred to Lilly as a “child molester” as Lilly was on the sexual offender registry. That was part of what led to the confrontation between the two.

“Some people’s actions speak about their future acts that they cannot be ignored,” Lefebure said. “This defendant doesn’t deserve mercy.

“His past history shows a propensity towards violence and a propensity towards substantial violence.”

The jury only deliberated a few minutes before coming back with a recommendation of no mercy.

Sentencing is set before Judge Robert Waters at 11 a.m. Oct. 4.

Brett Dunlap can be reached at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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