BECKLEY - A man is no longer facing murder charges in the death of his friend, who was electrocuted while the pair was allegedly trying to steal copper from a local power company in 2010.
Prosecutors dropped the charge against 32-year-old Bernard Joseph Garrison in Raleigh County Court Thursday based on a Supreme Court ruling that said he cannot be held responsible for the death of a co-perpetrator, according to his attorney Michael Froble.
Instead, Garrison pled guilty to first-degree robbery and breaking and entering. He faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and owes over $5,000 in restitution, according to Judge H.L. Kilpatrick III.
Prosecutors said Garrison and his late friend robbed two women closing CJ's Tobacco in August 2010. Garrison, they said, was armed with a paintball gun.
The thousands of dollars allegedly stolen was used for van payments and drugs, prosecutor Kristen Keller said.
One month later, the pair attempted to steal copper from an AEP substation when his friend was electrocuted, according to prosecutors.
The victim's sisters, who were also in court Thursday, approached Garrison after the plea bargain.
"I hope you see my brother's tears when you wake up in the morning," one sister told him.
Garrison is married with four kids, according to court testimony. He stopped attending school after ninth grade.
Garrison is scheduled to appear in court on March 28. He is currently being held in the Southern Regional Jail without bond.