Lead investigator testifies in Aaron Hoard murder trial

·3 min read

May 14—KINGWOOD — The prosecution called its last witness in the Aaron Hoard trial Thursday. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Megan Fields called her last witness, Lt. Jason Rhodeheaver.

Rhodeheaver, a member of the Preston County Sheriff's Department, was lead investigator in the case against Hoard.

Hoard is accused of first-degree murder in the November 2019 shooting death of Grant William Felton Jr., of Terra Alta, outside Shorthorn's Saloon.

Rhodeheaver said he was in Bruceton Mills when the call came through and was on his way to Terra Alta when he received a call that the shooter had left the scene. Rhodeheaver said he was also given a description of the vehicle.

"When I got to the scene it was chaotic, " he said. "There were vehicles blocking traffic, shell casings under plastic shot glasses, and a large puddle of blood on the sidewalk."

Rhodeheaver said members of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), State Police and Deputy J. B. Childers were on the scene. He said members of the Terra Alta Volunteer Fire Department were helping with crowd control.

"I interviewed witnesses and no one knew who the shooter was, " he said. I was the senior officer so I requested the the State Police collect evidence. I was trying to find the shooter. Deputy (Reginald) Martin taped off the crime scene. Childers had the magazine and firearm. I saw him clear it. It had a casing in it but no live rounds. The firearm was bagged and locked in my car."

Rhodeheaver said James Dixon later provided the shooter identification via a Facebook account. He said he then researched Hoard for a driver license, arrest information and social media and found he didn't have a concealed carry permit. West Virginia does not require a concealed carry permit to carry a firearm.

Rhodeheaver said he called in the Special Response Team (SRT). He said the SRT helps with the more volatile situations. He said the SRT responded to Brandon Teets house because it was believed Hoard might be there but wasn't.

Rhodeheaver said he was later contacted by the medical examiner and told to come to the hospital because Felton had passed away.

"They contacted me so I could document the injuries. I requested Mr. Felton's body be sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy, " he said. "After I left I was called to return to the hospital because a bullet was found on the floor of the room Mr. Felton was in. It was sent to the lab for tests."

Rhodeheaver said while he was at the hospital he interviewed Brian Teets, who was there and in custody. After the interview he said he went to the Sheriff's Office and filed a warrant for murder against Hoard. Rhodeheaver said he entered information about Hoard into NCIS, a nationwide data base, and listed Hoard as armed and dangerous with full extradition and wanted for murder.

Rhodeheaver then testified about finding Hoard's vehicle in the Monongalia County secure impound lot and having it transferred to Preston County's.

He testified that Hoard's mother brought in the clothes her son wore the night Felton was shot. Rhodeheaver also testified about how he tried to contact Christina Andrews (Brian Teets' girlfriend), and Machaela Jeffries (Hoard's girlfriend), and said they did not respond.

During questioning, defense attorney Belinda Haynie questioned why a warrant was filed for murder when one of the deputies on the scene said it appeared to be an unintentional shooting. After viewing body camera video, Rhodeheaver said he believed Deputy Todd Nestor was the one who said it appeared to be an unintentional shooting.

Haynie also noted that when Hoard lowered his arm after shooting into the air, Mike Felton went for the gun and others become involved in the struggle.

Rhodeheaver said all of Felton's injuries were obtained from a downward position.

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