VICTOR, WV (WOAY) – A Fayette County man is convicted of murder, conspiracy and arson.
According to Fayette County Prosecuting Attorney Anthony Ciliberti, Brian Willis, 32, of Victor, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and/or arson, and arson in the first degree following a three-day jury trial before Judge Paul M. Blake, Jr.
On Nov. 6, 2016, firefighters and police responded to a house fire on Willis Branch Road near the town of Victor and discovered the remains of two people, later determined to be Steven Skaggs and Stephanie Watters. Autopsy results obtained several days later confirmed that both Skaggs and Watters had been killed by shotgun blasts to the head.
Charles Gill, 24, of Victor, was arrested in July 2018 for the murders of Skaggs and Watters, and in May 2019, the Fayette County Grand Jury returned indictments against Gill and Brian Willis and Gill for the murders of Skaggs and Watters, the arson of their home, and for conspiring together and with Everette Gill, 56, of Victor, to commit the crimes of murder and/or arson.
The investigation revealed that all three men discussed killing Skaggs and Watters for weeks prior to the murders, calling their plan “The Clean Air Act.” The investigation also revealed that the motives for the murders were personal revenge over theft, jealousy, disputes over illegal drugs and drug money, and Willis’ assertions to Charles Gill that Skaggs and Watters were police informants.
The murders happened several days prior to the fire, and the fire was set intentionally to conceal any evidence of the murders.
In October 2019, Charles Gill admitted to shooting both victims with a sawed-off shotgun; Everett Gill admitted that he was involved with Charles Gill and Willis in the conspiracy to kill Skaggs and Watters. The evidence at trial showed that Brian Willis gave misleading statements to the police in an effort to conceal his participation in the murders and arson.
Another witnesses testified that Willis said he helped Charles Gill commit the murders, and several witnesses established Willis’ own personal motives against Skaggs and Watters.
Watters’ social media records also proved Willis’ threats, conflict, and jealously toward Skaggs after Willis’ relationship with Watters ended.
Willis will be sentenced on April 27 for these crimes. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole for each murder. He could receive one (1) to five (5) additional years for conspiracy and 2-20 additional years in prison.
Brian S. Willis was already serving a lengthy prison sentence for his convictions for attempted robbery and attempted murder of two other Ansted-area men in 2017. His prior convictions were unrelated to the instant crime.
Sentencing dates for Charles and Everette Gill have not yet been set. Charles Gill entered a guilty plea to lesser offenses of two counts of voluntary manslaughter and second degree arson in October 2019, and he faces up to 40 years in prison. Everette Gill entered a guilty plea to the conspiracy charge in November 2019, and he faces one 1-5 years in prison.
These crimes were investigated by the West Virginia State Police and the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department.
The case was prosecuted by Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer D. Crane and
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Sarah F. Smith.