LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The Lynchburg Police Department misreported charges against a teenager arrested in connection with Wendell Morris’ homicide in Lynchburg on Dec. 7.
In a news release sent out Tuesday, Dec. 15, police said they arrested 18-year-old Demijah Spinner and charged him with use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and “second-degree manslaughter.”
“Second-degree manslaughter” does not exist, according to both Lynchburg’s Public Defender Aaron Boone and Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison, with Boone explaining that manslaughter is classified as either voluntary or involuntary.
Carrie Dungan, the police department’s spokesperson, clarified on Wednesday, Dec. 16, saying the release misstated the charge and that Spinner is actually facing second-degree murder related to a gunshot wound that killed Wendell “Dell” Morris.
WFXR News asked Dungan if the department believes Spinner was the one who fired the fatal shot.
“He was charged with the murder so that’s, yes,” said Dungan.
In a follow-up text message. Dungan said that was not accurate, saying, “I cannot confirm that he is the one who shot and killed him.”
Adding to the confusion, Blue Ridge Regional Jail’s website contradicts the police department’s report, saying Spinner is charged with attempted murder. That means that so far, two different sources have now reported three conflicting charges against Spinner.
The Court Clerk’s office was closed on Wednesday due to weather, preventing us from access relevant documents filed in court that could reveal more information.
“That confusion does come up on occasion,” said Harrison, explaining why there could be discrepancies in official reports of charges. “This is an example. You could have multiple shooters, and so if you can’t say that that person, the bullet that came from that person’s gun was the one that killed our victim, then it would be an attempt if he’s in fact firing at the victim in an attempt to kill him.”
Harrison also did not have access to relevant documents on Wednesday to confirm the official charges. We asked if it was possible that the correct charge is, as Blue Ridge reported, attempted murder.
Harrison said, “Yes.”
Police are still looking for a second suspect connected to the homicide. James Hiett of Halifax County is wanted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
“We ask anyone that might have seen him or know his whereabouts to please contact the Lynchburg Police Department,” said Dungan.
When asked what role they believe Hiett played in Morris’s death, Dungan said, “That’s not information that I’m able to share at this time.”
She would not say how police identified the two suspects and would not provide any additional information.
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