Man accused of murder returned to West Virginia

NEW CUMBERLAND – Four months after a Hancock County grand jury indicted him, a Youngstown, Ohio, man has been brought back to West Virginia to face a murder charge.

Jarell A. Washington, 24, is being held at the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville on a $100,000 bond until his April 5 trial on charges of first-degree murder and delivery of a controlled substance. His case has been assigned to 1st Judicial Circuit Court Judge Martin J. Gaughan, before whom Washington recently appeared and entered a not guilty plea.

Washington is accused of causing the death of Kristen Renfro, 30, of Newell, by supplying her with heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, on March 7, 2011. She died in the early morning hours of the following day, according to court documents.

“In the state of West Virginia, if you deliver a controlled substance to someone and, as a result of that, they die, you can be charged with their death,” Hancock County Prosecutor Jim Davis said.

Authorities also believe Washington was with Renfro around the time of her death, which an autopsy by the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined was the result of fatal concentrations of morphine and methadone in her blood. The autopsy also revealed the presence of codeine and the sedative alprazolam (Xanax) and pointed to “heroin use in the hours preceding death.”

The autopsy found an injection mark on Renfro’s right wrist.

Renfro had been staying at 421 Abbey Court, a mobile home, with Brian W. Renfro, 33, a man described in court documents as Renfro’s “boyfriend/husband.” Brian Renfro found the woman in an unconscious state on the bathroom floor in the early morning hours of March 8, 2011, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by then-Hancock County Sheriff’s Sgt. Art Watson.

Brian Renfro tried to resuscitate her but to no avail. By the time personnel from the Newell Volunteer Fire Department and the New Cumberland Ambulance Service arrived, Renfro was dead, the affidavit said.

Pills and other drugs and drug contraband were seized in the subsequent search, according to court documents. Deputies also seized cell phones believed to have been used to facilitate previous drug transactions.

The sheriff’s department began investigating the overdose death as suspicious after hearing from witnesses that Renfro did not like to inject herself, the affidavit said.

Davis said the investigation remains open.

Washington had been serving a year-and-a-half sentence at Belmont Correctional Institution in St. Clairsville, Ohio, for drug trafficking and possession of drugs – 2011 cases originating out of Columbiana County.

Court documents filed in 2012 said Washington, who then had an address of Y&O Road in East Liverpool, sold .21 grams of heroin to a confidential informant for $100 on Dec. 2, 2011. On the same date, he was found in possession of 13.9 grams of cocaine during a traffic stop in Youngstown.

Hancock County authorities put a detainer on Washington after his indictment and brought him back in January to face the more serious charges. Davis said Washington will stay in Moundsville until the case is disposed of.

Washington’s defense counsel is attorney Robert McCoid of Wheeling.

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