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Woman Gets 15-Year Prison Sentence For 2017 Killing

Ohio County Circuit Judge David Sims presides during the sentencing of Freda Davis, who received 15 years in prison in connection with the shooting death of Terry Lyn Pendergrist Jr. in 2017. Davis appeared in court via video conferencing.

WHEELING — A Mingo County woman will serve 15 years in prison following the shooting death of a Louisiana man at a Wheeling hotel nearly three years ago.

Freda Davis, 38, was sentenced Monday in connection with the death of Terry Lyn Pendergrist Jr. at the McLure Hotel in July 2017.

Davis was not in the courtroom, but participated via video conference from the Northern Regional Jail.

She was asked if she had any words to speak on her behalf, or to the family of the victim. Her words were short.

“I’m sorry for their loss,” she said to the Pendergrist family.

Family members had traveled from Louisiana for the sentencing proceedings, which lasted only about 10 minutes.

Pendergrist’s sister, Kristi, read a statement from the family in a low voice that was just above a whisper.

“All I have is memories,” she said.

County Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Turak described Pendergrist as a man who “hated thieves and liars,” and who always kept candy in his pocket for nieces and nephews. She commended the family for their patience, and for “waiting three years for this to come to fruition.”

Pendergrist’s death initially was thought to be a suicide, but Davis later was charged with his murder in January 2019.

On Friday, she entered an Alford plea to voluntary manslaughter before Ohio County Circuit Court Judge David Sims. While making the plea, Davis maintained her innocence but acknowledged she would likely be found guilty if her case went to trial.

Sims on Monday accepted the state’s recommendation of 15 years in prison for Davis, and she will remain at the Northern Regional Jail.

Davis also has waived her right to parole. If she does seek parole, the state will be free to pursue the murder charge at trial.

There was some disagreement between Davis’ attorneys and Turak as to whether Davis should get credit for time already served.

While Davis was indicted for murder in January 2019, it wasn’t until August 2019 that she was extradited to West Virginia after being transferred from a Kentucky jail on unrelated burglary charges.

Turak recommended that her sentence start at the time she was booked in West Virginia on Aug. 5, 2019, and Sims accepted the recommendation.

During the plea hearing Friday, Turak gave a brief description of events as they unfolded on the night of Pendergrist’s death.

She said that on Aug 22, 2017, Pendergrist returned to the McLure Hotel — where he was staying while doing oil and gas work. He was sharing the room with Davis.

After Davis was allegedly seen requesting a key to the room, which Pendergrist granted, she then went to the parking garage to meet with an unknown person while Pendergrist called the front desk and asked that the locks be changed, as he did not want her in the room with him.

Around 8:17 p.m., Pendergrist was said to be on the phone with a lifelong friend, who said he overheard a fight break out between Pendergrist and Davis, who struck him. The last words the friend said he heard Pendergrist say were, “I’m not letting you rob me again!”

Around 8:40 p.m. Davis called 911, saying that Pendergrist had shot himself, according to Turak.

While the death was initially thought to be a suicide, a subsequent investigation determined Pendergrist was shot at intermediate range. Davis allegedly confessed to the killing to a friend later, providing details about mechanical defects with the gun to the friend, which was later corroborated by investigators.

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