Man goes on trial in boy’s 1981 slaying

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — The trial for a man charged in the 1981 slaying of a 7-year-old West Virginia boy began with a detective testifying about the defendant’s videotaped confession.

Harrison County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Dixon Pruitt testified Monday that defendant William Clyde Jeffries told authorities the killing began with him intending to molest Conrad Roger “C.R.” Diaz. Jeffries said he tricked the victim into going to a wooded area but then they heard voices and “all hell broke loose.”

Police reopened the investigation of Diaz’s death in 2017 and arrested Jeffries the following year. Jeffries, who was 17 at the time of the killing, has pleaded not guilty.

Although most court proceedings in the state have been suspended due to the coronavirus, the case is proceeding to protect Jeffries’ right to speedy trial. He has been incarcerated for more than two years.

“The state’s evidence will show Jeffries took Diaz to the woods to molest him; when he wouldn’t be quiet, he killed him,” Harrison Prosecutor Rachel Romano said during her opening statement.

“I’ll show you why and how this young man was killed, and by who,” Romano said.

Defense attorney Christopher M. Wilson said Jeffries was cleared in the original investigation. He said the state’s case is primarily based on a February 2018 confession.

He urged jurors to listen to all parts of that statement and study the mannerisms of investigators and the defendant. If jurors do that, Wilson predicted they will come to the conclusion that Jeffries simply eventually told investigators “what they wanted to hear,” and acquit the defendant.

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.