WILLIAMSON — The man accused of shooting and killing Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum had reportedly bought several guns, not just the one allegedly used in the slaying, after he had been determined legally ineligible to own them, according to Prosecutor C., Michael Sparks.
Information relayed by Sparks states that the gun purchases were made after February of 2010, when 37-year-old Tennis Melvin Maynard was reportedly deemed ineligible to own a firearm. Sparks has refused to say why Maynard isn’t allowed to own or possess a weapon but the suspect’s family members has said on multiple occasions during interviews with the media that the defendant has mental problems and had been institutionalized in the past.
According to data gathered by the WV Associated Press, since 1968, federal law has banned certain individuals with a history of mental illness from buying guns. The nationwide background-check system, which also is used to prevent convicted felons from buying guns, was established under the 1993 Brady Bill. A WV database that forwards information on people involuntarily committed to a mental institution to the national system became operational in January 2011. Sparks said Maynard’s “multiple” purchases were made after then, including the weapon allegedly used to shoot Sheriff Eugene Crum as the lawman ate lunch April 3 in a Williamson parking lot.
Sparks said that it after reviewing information that has been gathered during the process of Crum’s murder investigation, the gun allegedly used was purchased in neighboring Logan County. Video surveillance footage from the day of the sheriff’s slaying has been gathered from numerous locations throughout the City of Williamson and will be carefully screened by law enforcement.
“One of my primary goals is to get as much video, any camera evidence to give a timeline on where Maynard was prior to the shooting and what he was doing,” the prosecutor said.
Maynard was shot and wounded by a Mingo County deputy in a chase after the shooting of Sheriff Crum. The West Virginia State Police (WVSP) said he crashed his car into a bridge located in Delbarton, not far from his Ragland residence, then got out and pointed a weapon at the deputy, who then shot him several times and critically wounded him. The WVSP has said that Maynard’s condition is steadily improving, although a discharge date from the hospital has not been decided. Authorities have charged Maynard with the first-degree murder of Crum and the attempted murder of a deputy. Additionally, federal prosecutors are investigating the defendant to see if he lied on his gun permit application.
After citing a conflict of interest between the defendant and Mingo County Public Defender’s office who worked alongside of Sheriff Crum during judicial matters in the past (he served as magistrate for 10 years), Kanawha County Judge Paul Ferrell appointed Huntington-based Attorney Rick Weston to represent Maynard. Ferrell was named as a Special Judge who will preside over Maynard’s court hearings following the voluntary recusal of Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury.