CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A jury convicted a man in the slaying of a 7-year-old West Virginia boy more than 38 years after the child’s body was found in a wooded area near a ball field.
William Clyde Jeffries, 55, was found guilty Wednesday of second-degree murder in the 1981 slaying of Conrad Roger “C.R.” Diaz, The Exponent Telegram reported.
Harrison County Prosecutor Rachel Romano said Jeffries took Diaz to the woods to molest him and then killed him when he wouldn’t be quiet.
Defense attorney Christopher M. Wilson said Jeffries was cleared in the original investigation and the state’s case was primarily based on a February 2018 confession in which Jeffries told investigators “what they wanted to hear.”
The case had gone cold and was reopened in 2017.
“Somebody with new perspective had to look at this case again,” Romano told jurors in her closing argument. Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Dixon Pruitt “had no preconceived notion. He followed the evidence, and the evidence led to William Jeffries.”
The defense noted that two troopers from the 1981 investigation testified Wednesday they remained convinced another person killed the boy. A 13-year-old was was briefly charged shortly after the slaying, but charges were dropped when an 11-year-old witness was found incompetent.
Harrison Chief Judge Thomas A. Bedell set sentencing in early May.