Weirton man admits to drug, gun crimes

Convicted murderer is heading back to prison

WHEELING — A Weirton man has admitted to charges related to the possession and distribution of drugs, as well as firearms charges, according to U.S. Attorney Bill Powell.

Lavel L. Hicks, 43, pleaded guilty to two counts of distribution of cocaine base, four counts of distribution of cocaine hydrochloride, and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. Hicks admitted to distributing the drugs in November and December 2017 and December 2018 in Brooke and Hancock counties.

Hicks, having previously been convicted of second-degree murder in Brooke County Circuit Court, also illegally possessed a 9mm pistol.

Hicks was charged in the August 2002 shooting death of Demetrius Birden, 21, of Steubenville outside the former Club Loco in Wellsburg. A security guard at the club was shot in the chest during the incident, but was treated and released from Weirton Medical Center.

Hicks fled to Hapeville, Ga., but was arrested about a month later by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Hicks faces up to 20 years incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000,000 for each drug count, and he faces up to 10 years incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000 for the firearms count.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Danae DeMasi-Lemon is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Hancock-Brooke-Weirton Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative, investigated.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. Mazzone presided.

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