13News Investigates: Who is James Belknap? - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

13News Investigates: Who is James Belknap?

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SUMMERSVILLE, West Virginia -

In a Nicholas County Circuit Courtroom, James Belknap walked in slowly, his eyes quickly scanning the crowded galley, before returning to watch his shackled feet.

The 27-year-old Belknap was charged in May with shooting and killing Steven Hendrix, his two children, ages 4 and 6, and Amber Martin on his Leivasy property.

In a quiet voice, Belknap told Circuit Court Judge Gary Johnson that he was not guilty for the killings. 

His trial is scheduled for April 16. 

Since high school, Belknap's life has changed dramatically.

Belknap, by all accounts was a highly intelligent student at Richwood High School, where he graduated near the top of his class in 2004.  Belknap was involved in several clubs including Future Business Leaders of America and was in the prom court. 

High school friends say Belknap was quiet, but friendly.  He was also known for partying. 

A year later, Belknap was arrested and charged with murder.  Belknap was accused of helping his father, Kenneth Belknap burn the body of Richard Parnell.  Parnell was shot once in the head and once in the chest with a shotgun. As the investigation went on, Kenneth Belknap admitted to the killing.  James Belknap was accused of helping dispose of the body.  The statement provided to police states that James Belknap was not there at the time of the killing. 

Police tried to charge Belknap with accessory to murder, but West Virginia state law states that a family member cannot be charged with accessory.  Belknap had to be cleared of the crime.  He would spend a year behind bars on drug charges. 

His father remains incarcerated at Mount Olive Correctional Facility. 

Then, in May 2012, Steven Hendrix brought his family to the Nicholas County Belknap property to confront James Belknap over a drug debt.  The two adults and two children would be found shot dead and dumped naked.

Belknap maintains his innocence, at least in part, to the crimes.  Friends say they were shocked by the children's death, but not that Belknap was involved.

"The thing that shocked was those kids being killed, nothing else about it surprised me," said a woman who knows Belknap intimately. 13News agreed to hide her identity. 

The woman said that Belknap was much more involved in the 2005 shooting than even police know. She claims Belknap was carrying the shotgun that was used in the Parnell killing just after Parnell's time of death, an impossibility if the official narrative is to be believed. 

13News has new details into the case of James Belknap.  Stay tuned for more on this developing story.