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Man pleads guilty in East End shooting death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston man admitted Tuesday that he shot a passenger in his car after the man pulled a gun out and tried to rob him.

Richard Bernard Hilliard pleaded guilty Tuesday to voluntary manslaughter charges in the shooting death of David Juaboi Booker, who had attempted to rob Hilliard and another man as the men were sitting in a car on a dark East End street.

Hilliard faces up to 15 years in prison on the manslaughter charge.

During a hearing in Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom's courtroom, Hilliard said that he, Andre Williamson, Booker and another man were loitering on Beauregard Street, near the Sojourner's women shelter, on Oct. 11 when Booker asked for a ride to the West Side.

Hilliard and Williamson agreed, although they were initially leery of Booker's violent reputation, Hilliard said.

Prosecutors say the three men drove around the West Side for a while, looking for someone to rob. At one point, Booker told Williamson and Hilliard to take him back to Milton Street on the East End.

Once the men got there, Booker, sitting in the back seat, pulled out a gun and pointed it at Williamson's head, Hilliard said.

"That's when I reacted and shot him," he said.

When Booker pulled out his gun, Williamson also pulled out his, but dropped it on the floor. Hilliard reacted quickest and shot Booker twice.

Hilliard and Williamson pulled Booker's body out of the back seat of the car and later wiped the vehicle down with bleach. Hilliard threw one of the guns into the Kanawha River and sold a second. He said he did not know what happened to the third weapon.

Hilliard originally was charged with murder. Prosecutors, however, said that it would have been difficult to prove that the shooting was an act of premeditated murder and not self-defense.

Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach said medical examiners found that Booker was under the influence of cocaine, alcohol and other drugs at the time of his death.

Booker has been connected to at least two killings.

In 2005, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges connected to the shooting of a man in an apartment at Roseberry Circle.

In September 2010, he got into an altercation with a Beckley man, delivering a punch to the back of the man's head. The man fell and hit his head off a sidewalk and later died in a hospital. Booker was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Williamson also has a lengthy rap sheet.

In 2006, Williamson, also known as "A-3," was accused of shooting and killing Jody Dwayne Gray, allegedly over a drug deal. Prosecutors at the time said they did not have enough evidence to pursue murder charges.

Two years later, a jury found Williamson guilty of unlawful wounding and unlawful endangerment charges after a downtown shooting that left a Charleston man with a fractured femur.

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


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