PRINCETON — A circuit court judge denied bond Monday for a local man facing a charge of first-degree murder in the Aug. 10 shooting death of a woman near Princeton.
Darrell Wesley Hazelwood, 47, of Princeton was arraigned before Circuit Court Judge Mark Wills on a charge of first-degree murder. Hazelwood was arrested Saturday after the shooting death of Tessa Hill.
Hazelwood was brought before Circuit Court Judge Mark Wills for a bond hearing. Attorney Joe Harvey, who is representing Hazelwood asked Wills to set bond and said there were places where his client could stay on home confinement. Harvey also told Wills that Hazelwood was not a flight risk.
Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler, who represented the state with Assistant Prosecutor David Pfeifer, opposed bond. Sitler said there would be evidence of deliberations and premeditation, adding that the shooting was not an act of passion.
In West Virginia, bond in murder cases must be set by a circuit judge.
Harvey said that Hazelwood, who had lacerations and other head injuries, needed medical attention and that this would be easier to get if he was on home confinement.
Wills said he was denying bond because of the charge’s severity. Hazelwood was remanded to the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver.
The case began when the Mercer County Sheriffs Department was dispatched to Murdock Street near Princeton. When the deputies arrived, they found a woman, later identified as Tessa Hill, lying in the road with an apparent gunshot wound to her head, according to Detective Sgt. Steven A. Sommers with the Sheriffs department. She was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Deputies spoke with witnesses who said that Hazelwood was the person who had shot her and that he had fled the scene, Sommers stated in his criminal complaint. The deputies searched the area along with the Princeton Police Department and the West Virginia State Police Princeton Detachment. Hazelwood was later taken into custody.
Sommers said that upon his arrival, he found Tessa Hill on her back with a gunshot wound to the head.
“I conducted a scene investigation and during this time I located a wallet near the victim’s body that contained an identification card belonging to Darrell Hazelwood,” Sommers stated. “I also located one .380-shell casings and one live round that was identified as a Hornady Critical Defense .380.
Several witnesses were identified and they agreed to come to the sheriff’s department for an interview, Sommers said.
One witness, Ronnie Ferrell, stated that he was the victim’s boyfriend and that they had been staying with Hazelwood. During the afternoon and evening of Aug. 10, Hazelwood left the residence with another female, Sommers said in his report.
Later, Ferrell picked up Hazelwood and while taking him home, Hazelwood said that the victim, Hill, “had disrespected him and that he needed to ‘slap’ her around,” Sommers said in his report.
Sommers stated that Ferrell dropped off Hazelwood, then drove to the Eads Mill Road area where he picked up Hill. During a conversation with Hill, he learned that she was being accused of stealing money.
They went to the home of Hill’s parents on Murdock Street, Sommers said.
A second witness, Larry White, said Hill went into the residence and when she came out, he saw Hazelwood walking toward Ferrell’s vehicle and grab her by the throat. HIll’s daughter came out of the home and “the accused yelled at her and pushed her.” Ferrell got out of the vehicle and started fighting with Hazelwood.
“During the fight (Ferrell) stated that once he was on top of (Hazelwood), he punched him in the face and “banged his head against the pavement.” The accused stood up and he fell to the ground,” Sommers said in the report. “While he was on the ground, he heard two to three shots, one of which he stated he could hear the bullet near him.”
White told investigators that Hazelwood stated he would “show them for double teaming him” and produced a firearm and shot at Ronnie Ferrell, Sommers said.
“He then turned toward the victim, who was on her back on the pavement, pointed the firearm at her and shot her in the head,” Sommers stated in his report.
— Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org