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Trial of Pagan “Top Dog” murder trial begins

WBOY 12 News Staff

FAIRMONT, W.Va. – A trial began Monday for a man accused in a 2018 fatal shooting incident.

James Vincent is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Luka Grabb in September of that year.

Following jury selection, the prosecution and defense gave opening statements to jurors.

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The prosecution told the jury that the incident was first-degree murder, and that jurors would hear about violent criminal organizations, including motorcycle gangs.

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James Vincent

According to the prosecution, Vincent was the “top dog” of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, which is classified by the United States Department of Justice as an outlaw motorcycle gang. It stated Monday that Vincent lured Grabb to his house and explained that Grabb was a Pagan until he was kicked out of the club.

The prosecution described that Grabb was shot four times in the kneecaps and then dragged to Pinchgut Hollow and dumped in a ditch so he could suffer a torturous, slow death.

During opening statements, the defense questioned whether or not Vincent intentionally killed Grabb. It explained that there was a taped conversation that Vincent heard, in which Grabb stated he was going to rob Vincent.

On Sept. 24, 2018, Vincent invited Grabb over to his house, where he had a group of friends over, the defense stated. Grabb showed up with methamphetamine to share with everyone, and they ate some food and hung out, with approximately seven people present.

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Before Grabb left, Vincent confronted him about the recording and the planned robbery, the defense explained to jurors. During this confrontation, Grabb admitted that it was his voice on the tape, and the tension escalated. Grabb stood up and appeared to be reaching for a gun, at which time Vincent shot four times.

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The defense told the jury that witnesses will testify that they thought Vincent was shooting at the ground, as several of the shots missed but ricocheted off concrete walls, causing some of Grabb’s injuries. Further, the defense argued that Vincent asked two friends to take Grabb to get help, at which time they dragged him about 75 feet through a gravel driveway and yard and put him in an SUV.

The driver was afraid to take Grabb to a hospital because he was high on methamphetamine, and Grabb was yelling for them to just drop him off, which they did, the defense explained. A passerby then found Grabb still alive, but he died from blood loss before getting to the hospital.

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The defense also stated that the driver, who accepted a plea deal for involuntary manslaughter in the case, will also testify in the trial.

The trial will continue Tuesday.

In August 2020, David Uphold was acquitted of murder in the case, while a jury convicted him of conspiracy and malicious wounding. Two other men, Russell Kirk and Charles Carpenter, pleaded guilty in the incident. Vernon Carpenter is still awaiting his trial.

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