CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The defense for the man accused of killing a Nicholas County deputy in June 2022 asked for a change of venue to ensure a fair trial.
Brent Kelly’s defense’s request will be addressed at a suppression hearing in December 2023. A new trial date is scheduled for Feb. 6, 2024.
According to the Nicholas County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Brent Kelly in May 2023 pleaded not guilty to one count of murder, a felony; two counts of attempted murder, both felonies; four counts of wanton endangerment involving a firearm, all felonies; and one count of conspiracy to violate person prohibited from possessing firearms, a felony.
Kelly was initially charged with first-degree murder on June 6 and was indicted on May 9, 2023. He was arrested Friday, June 3, 2022, following the shootout that happened shortly after 7:30 p.m. that evening. Deputy Thomas Baker and suspect Richie Holcomb were both killed in the incident and Cpl. J. Ellison received an injury to his leg.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Nicholas County Magistrate Court, the incident began when Nicholas County 911 dispatchers received a call regarding the alleged destruction of property on Holcomb Street in Birch River. The complaint states deputies were advised the two suspects, Kelly and Richie Holcomb were allegedly “held up in a camper with a possible 9mm AR-15.”
Four deputies, including Baker, responded to the location of the camper on Fire House Road in Birch River. One of the deputies contacted dispatchers around 7:05 p.m. stating two men were inside the camper and talking with authorities and that authorities were waiting on Ellison and his K-9 to arrive at the scene, the complaint says.
Deputies say during that time, the men allegedly became “non-cooperative and barricaded themselves within the camper.
According to the 911 log, shots fired from within the camper were first reported around 7:35 p.m. The log states the first report of an officer hit came in at 7:40 p.m., and that by 7:42 p.m., a second officer had been hit. The log states an officer was reportedly pinned down at 7:45 p.m.
The complaint states that Kelly was taken into custody around 8:26 p.m. The camper was then cleared for the officers’ safety. Authorities say they then found Holcomb dead near the rear of the RV and allegedly in possession of a semi-automatic assault-style rifle.
In February 2023, Melanie Clodfelter, 41, of Summersville was sentenced in connection to the case after pleading guilty to false statements she made regarding the firearm that was used to kill Deputy Baker.
She was arrested for, and later admitted to, purchasing the semi-automatic rifle for Richie Holcomb, who was a convicted felon. According to the DOJ, Clodfelter said she lied on a Federal Firearms Transaction Record Form to purchase the firearm. Clodfelter falsely claimed she was the buyer of the gun when she was actually purchasing it for Holcomb, the DOJ says.