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Lester enters second plea to federal charges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Shawn Thomas Lester, the man authorities say is responsible for the 2003 Kanawha County sniper-style slayings, entered a second guilty plea Wednesday on unrelated federal gun charges.

Lester, 37, pleaded guilty to charges he possessed two shotguns at the home of Rodney "Big Rod" Shaffer off of Hughart Drive in Sissonville in 2007. Motion-activated video cameras installed in the home captured images of Lester holding the weapons.

Lester was previously convicted on drug and grand larceny charges and would have been prohibited from carrying a firearm.

U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver rejected Lester's first plea agreement in September, which asked the judge to dissolve the two weapons possession charges and run a 20-year drug distribution sentence side by side with Lester's 40-year second-degree state murder sentence, which is linked to the 2003 killings.

Under the new plea, the drug charge would be dropped and Lester will be sentenced on the weapons possession charges.

Copenhaver said the first plea agreement would not have provided enough punishment.

The rejection raised concerns from Lester's attorney, Deirdre Purdy, that Lester's plea to the state murder charge, which she said was intertwined with his federal plea, could also be discarded.

Purdy apologized to the judge Wednesday for raising the issue.

In late July, Lester pleaded guilty in Kanawha County Circuit court to second-degree murder charges linked to the death of Jeanie Patton, who was one of three people shot and killed outside of county convenience stores in 2003.

Patton, Okey Meadows Jr., and Gary Carrier Jr., were each felled by a bullet from a .22 Magnum caliber Marlin rifle, investigators said.

The killings were reportedly tied to the theft of drugs that belonged to members of the Mexican mafia, which operated a cross-state, multimillion-dollar drug operation that had stops in Kanawha County, according to investigators.

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


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