Victim Clashed With Family

WHEELING – The alleged road rage that preceded Justin Wright’s death Saturday was not his first reported clash with a member of David E. Hancher-Palmer’s family.

Justin Wright, 29, of Toronto, Brittney Lynn Kusic, 26, of Weirton and Steven Carpenter, 20, of Toronto, all died of injuries they suffered in a crash at about 9:45 a.m. Saturday on a stretch of Interstate 70 in Ohio County known as Two Mile Hill. Hancher-Palmer, 22, of Rayland, is being held in the Northern Regional Jail on four counts of malicious assault, leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a suspended license for his alleged involvement in that crash.

West Virginia State Police Sgt. Scott Adams said Hancher-Palmer intentionally drove a 1992 Chevrolet Beretta Saturday into the truck driven by Justin Wright on the Interstate 70 entrance ramp.

He said that collision sent the truck into the westbound lanes of I-70 where it was struck by a tractor-trailer. Adams said there were reports the two exchanged words from vehicle-to-vehicle prior to the crash.

Ashley Wright, 20, also was a passenger in the vehicle driven by Justin Wright. Ashley Wright was listed today in fair condition at the Ohio Valley Medical Center.

Adams said Hancher-Palmer and Justin Wright were once friends, but that friendship recently ended. Adams said the events that preceded the death are still being investigated.

Also on Monday, Ohio County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Drage Flick said Hancher-Palmer’s father, David Elmo Palmer, 44, of Bridgeport, is wanted on a charge that also involve Justin Wright.

Flick said there is a warrant for David Elmo Palmer’s arrest on a charge of battery. According to the chief, David Elmo Palmer allegedly assaulted Justin Wright on Jan. 11 at the Wheeling Treatment Clinic – the same location Justin Wright and Hancher-Palmer left just before the fatal crash.

Flick said evidence indicates David Elmo Palmer and Justin Wright were involved in a financial dispute.

Wright was transported to Wheeling Hospital after he was reportedly punched in the face by David Elmo Palmer. On Jan. 10, the day before the alleged battery, David Elmo Palmer reportedly threatened Palmer with a hammer.

“It appears Justin Wright owed the father money for mechanic work,” Flick said. “He was dropping his son off for treatment, and they were there at the same time. After he assaulted Mr. Wright, he fled the area before we arrived, and he left his son there.”

Flick said authorities in Ohio had hoped to arrest David Elmo Palmer on Monday. He said David Elmo Palmer has an extensive criminal history that includes drunken driving and breaking and entering charges. He said the man accused of battery against Justin Wright also has several identities.

“He has a dozen aliases, and a handful of social security numbers,” Flick said.

Adams said Hancher-Palmer fled the scene of the crash Saturday, but did turn himself into authorities later that day. Adams said Hancher-Palmer did not know anyone had died when he was first questioned by investigators.