By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
On September 3, 2017, first responders received a call that there had been a shooting in the Porterwood area. Unfortunately, when crews arrived on the scene, they found Nikeia Moore had been shot and passed away as a result of her injuries.
In the days to follow, Jason White was placed behind bars at the Tygarts Valley Regional Jail in connection with the incident. White was indicted and arraigned on one count of murder and has remained in custody for nearly three years without bail. A multi-day trial had been on the schedule more than once, but due to issues with expert analysis delays and COVID-19, the trial had received a continuance.
White was transported to Tucker County Circuit Court on August 10 with the Honorable Judge Lynn Nelson presiding. What was scheduled to be the first day of a five day jury trial turned into a plea agreement. He was escorted in by two correctional officers along with his attorney, Phil Isner. Judge Nelson ensured White fully understood his rights and the procedures moving forward, to which he agreed he understood. Judge Nelson explained how the plea agreement, if accepted, could lead to a maximum of 40 years and verified that White was accepting this offer on his own free will. At the conclusion of his explanation, Judge Nelson asked, “To the felony offense of second degree murder, how do you plea?” White responded, “Guilty, sir.”
Prosecution was then asked to summarize the crime, to which Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora stated that White and Moore were supposedly in a relationship at the time of the altercation when an argument broke out. At that time, White pulled a gun and shot Moore, causing her death.
LaMora explained that in a murder case, the defendant is only charged with murder and to what degree is determined by a jury. At trial, the evidence would be presented and the jurors would decide to what level the evidence supports before they make their decision. The judge will then determine what the sentence will be. For first degree murder, the defendant could receive a life sentence, with or without mercy. With mercy qualifies the defendant a chance of parole after 15 years. With a second degree murder charge, the sentence ranges from a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 40 years, though the judge will assign an exact term.
As part of the plea agreement, LaMora informed Judge Nelson that, at the time of sentencing, the state will remain silent with the agreement that the victim’s mother have a chance to speak. White will also be credited with the time served to date. Judge Nelson agreed to these terms.
A pre-sentencing investigation will be conducted by the Tucker County Probation Office and the report will be provided to Judge Nelson. White acknowledged that this offense is not his first felony. Once the report is finalized, a sentencing hearing will be set when the mother of the victim will have an opportunity to speak to the court. At that time, Judge Nelson will assign White a sentence for his second degree murder conviction.