Acoff Murder Retrial Set for February in Wheeling

WHEELING — Attorneys, experts and Circuit Judge David Sims debated for nearly 10 minutes, in court and behind closed doors, attempting to schedule a retrial for Dallas Acoff.

Acoff’s attorney, Robert McCoid, said the defense had an expert witness who would be unavailable for Acoff’s retrial date, which had been set for Nov. 13. As McCoid discussed potential dates for the trial with Ohio County Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Turak and worked around the court schedule, the dates were pressed further into the new year.

They finally settled on dates in February, with jury selection beginning Friday, Feb. 8. The trial is now set to begin Feb. 11, which is the following Monday.

“I hate moving it that far,” Sims said of the distant trial date.

“There’s a lot of moving parts to put this whole thing together,” Turak said.

The trial is expected to take three or four days, with jury selection taking up an entire day by itself, McCoid speculated. He also said media coverage of the case had required a larger pool of jurors in order to find 12 people not familiar with the case to fill a jury box.

Acoff was granted a retrial in May. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 2016 for the 2015 death of Lemroy Coleman. The retrial was ordered by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals after McCoid was able to contact Norman Banks — who was shot and injured during the same encounter in which Coleman was killed.

Sims ordered a retrial, but prosecutors opposed it.

The Supreme Court struck down a writ of prohibition prosecutors filed against a retrial in a 3-2 vote, calling Banks’ willingness to testify “extraordinary.”

Sims had chastised the prosecutor’s office for an apparent failure to assertively serve the subpoena to Banks, who was recuperating in Cleveland following the shooting. In his order, Sims said the prosecutor’s office “contends that the document was a subpoena but does not argue that it made any efforts to lawfully serve a subpoena on Banks.”

“There is no evidence that the State attempted to obtain a signed statement from Banks or that the State offered to provide security for Banks before, during or after his testimony in this matter,” Sims wrote.