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Man may face murder charge in boy's death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston man may face murder charges for allegedly beating his girlfriend while pulled over on the interstate -- an incident that caused a truck to kill the woman's 11-year-old son, who had fled into traffic in search of help.

Assistant Kanawha County prosecutor Dan Holstein said during a bond hearing Thursday that the state is reviewing the case to determine whether Ethan Chic-Colbert's actions the night 11-year-old Jahlil Clements died provide evidence of kidnapping and murder.

State law allows prosecutors to connect certain felonies, like robbery, burglary, and kidnapping to murder charges if a defendant causes a death while committing one of those crimes. Chic-Colbert's indicted charges of child abuse and neglect causing death cannot be linked to murder charges, Holstein said.

Holstein also said Chic-Colbert is the prime suspect in an unrelated case -- the Sept. 7, 2010, shooting death of Beverly Ann Simley, 48, of Charleston.

Police found Simley dead outside The Bird House Cafe and Lounge on Sixth Avenue, where she had worked as a bartender. Holstein said Simley had a domestic violence petition against Chic-Colbert at the time of her death. Her slaying remains unsolved.

In Clements' death, Holstein said that on March 4, Chic-Colbert, 21, began assaulting Lynitrah Woodson as she drove down Interstate 77, with her son and a toddler, who is Chic-Colbert's son, also inside the car.

Once Woodson pulled over between the Leon Sullivan Way and Greenbrier Street exits, Chic-Colbert dragged her from her seat and onto the road, sat on top of her, and beat her with both fists, Holstein said.

Jahlil Clements, searching for help for his mother, was trying to flag down vehicles when a truck hit him, Holstein said.

Witnesses say Chic-Colbert saw the truck strike the boy, then turned to kick Woodson a last time before fleeing the scene, the prosecutor said.

During Thursday's bond hearing, Chic-Colbert's lawyer asked Kanawha Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib Jr. to reduce the bond to $10,000 property, down from his current $100,000 full cash, noting that Chic-Colbert has a single misdemeanor conviction on his record for simple possession of marijuana.

Holstein objected, citing the Simley case.

Holstein also said Chic-Colbert has faced a string of charges relating to battery on women. That includes a July violation of a restraining order, when he allegedly "threatened to blow Woodson's brains all over the concrete," according to a complaint filed in magistrate court.

That complaint states that Chic-Colbert approached Woodson in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven and threatened to kill her.

Chic-Colbert, who has several teardrop tattoos under his eye, told Woodson that she "would be the next set of teardrops on his face," the complaint states.

Holstein noted that Chic-Colbert was also arrested on a wanton endangerment charge in August, when he allegedly held a gun to a woman's face. The charges were dismissed when the woman failed to appear in court.

Burglary, malicious wounding and domestic violence charges against Chic-Colbert were also dismissed, court records indicate.

Judge Zakaib said that Chic-Colbert's past suggests that he is abusive toward women, and denied the bond reduction.

"The defendant hasn't shown one scintilla of evidence to justify reducing the bond," the judge said.

Reach Zac Taylor at Zachary.Taylor@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.

 


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