Capital City reacts to another roadblock in sniper trial - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Capital City reacts to another roadblock in sniper trial


A judge has rejected a plea bargain on federal gun and drug charges for a Charleston man involved in sniper shootings that terrorized the Kanawha Valley in 2003.

U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver said the deal Shawn Lester struck in state court just wasn't harsh enough. The public seems to agree.

Robert Vanfossen of Charleston said, "I personally feel like he needs to spend as much time as possible behind bars.  There's no way you can repay a life."

In exchange for Lester's guilty plea a couple of months ago in a Kanawha County courtroom. Three first degree murder charges were dropped. Instead, he was set to serve a 40 year sentence for one count of second-degree murder. 

This federal deal would have meant Lester would serve 20 years on the gun charges but basically he would be serving the state and federal time  at the same time. That's what the judge didn't like.

"I think he should get what everyone else gets for murder as well as the drug and gun charges and all that he's already getting in trouble for.  I think he should get way more.  I don't think it's right," said Todd Simpson of Charleston. 

The state sniper plea agreement hinged on the federal plea agreement.  With that plea deal gone, it could mean that the sniper trial could start all over. 

It's a painful prospect for the families of the victims.

"I mean, I would be pretty upset.  I do not think it's long enough at all.  Just mainly for the family's sake", said Simpson. 

Lester's new court date is set for Nov. 14.