UPDATE (Dec. 1, 2022, at 1:44 p.m.): A Kanawha County man accused of killing a woman in August will not have the option of bail, Judge Jennifer Bailey decided on Thursday.

In the court hearing, Vestal Harper’s lawyer asked Judge Bailey if his client could pay a $50,000 property bail.

The defense said Harper should have the option of bail because he displays no flight risk nor is he a danger to the community. According to Harper’s lawyer, the defendant is 76 years old, has lived in Kanawha County his entire life, and has no criminal convictions.

“Obviously this is the most serious type of charge that can be charged, but the question of bail is whether there is a danger of flight or a risk to the community,” the defense said. ” … So even in a first-degree murder case, I would think that a property bond is appropriate … “

The prosecution opposed bail due to the seriousness of Harper’s alleged crimes. The prosecution said the issue of bail is not just about whether someone will appear in court, but also the nature of the alleged crime.

“The court is also to take into consideration the nature of the crime,” the prosecution said. “This was an extremely violent crime per the allegations and the strength of the evidence.” 

The prosecution said that a Ring doorbell camera video shows Harper allegedly approaching the victim’s home and trying to speak with her. When she refuses, he allegedly pulls out a weapon and shoots her several times. The video then allegedly shows Harper stepping over the victim to leave, turning around, and shooting her one more time while the victim was on the ground.

These circumstances are why the prosecution said this crime was allegedly “fueled by jealousy,” and bail is not appropriate in the case.

After both sides made their point, Judge Bailey did not allow bail for Harper.

She said court files and police reports show Harper was arrested in a vehicle, which appears he allegedly was attempting to flee.

Judge Bailey did say, however, that she had not yet seen the Ring camera video showing Harper’s alleged crimes.

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — A man accused of killing a woman in Kanawha County in August has pleaded not guilty in Kanawha County Court.

According to Kanawha County Court records, Vestal Harper, 76, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges on Nov. 30, 2022. Harper is accused of fatally shooting 72-year-old Nancy Belcher. The shooting happened around 4:36 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, in the 700 block of Lower Donnally Road in the Kanawha City area.

He was indicted by a grand jury on Nov. 11, 2022.

A trial date for Harper has been set for March 6, 2023. He is currently being held in the South Central Regional Jail without bond.

Vestal Harper, 76, pleaded Not Guilty on the indictment of First Degree Murder, and other related charges. His trial date was set for 3/6/23. He will continue being held in South Central Regional Jail on no bond. 

See the web story linked above for more background details.