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Youngstown man indicted, allegedly caused overdose of Newell woman

September 14, 2012
Morning Journal News

NEW CUMBERLAND, W.Va. -A Youngstown man has been indicted for first-degree murder in connection with the overdose death of a Newell woman in 2011.

The Hancock County grand jury, meeting this week in Hancock County Circuit Court, returned an indictment of first-degree murder and delivery of a controlled substance against Jarell A. Washington, 23, of Youngstown.

The indictment states Washington caused the death of Kristen Renfro, of Newell, by supplying her with heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, on March 7, 2011.

Hancock County Prosecutor Jim Davis said Renfro died a day later of a heroin overdose.

"I think (Washington) was a person that she was familiar with as a supplier," Davis said. "In our state, if you commit certain crimes, such as delivery of a controlled substance, and a person dies as a result, that's felony murder."

Washington already is serving one and a half years at Belmont Correctional Institution in St. Clairsville, Ohio, for drug trafficking and possession of drugs-cases originating out of Columbiana County, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Davis said it took awhile to take the case to a grand jury because other suspects were being investigated. "At this point in time, we know Mr. Washington was directly involved, so we're going with what we have," he said.

A detainer has been put on Washington to bring him back to Hancock County to face the new charges, Davis said.

Also this week, the grand jury indicted Gregory Virden Jr., 22, of Chester, on a charge of child abuse resulting in serious injury.

Virden is accused of seriously injuring a 14-month-old boy who was in his care on May 2. The boy, the son of a woman Virden was dating, suffered from shaken baby syndrome while he was being watched by Virden at Virden's parents' house in Chester, Davis said. The boy's mother was at work at the time, he said.

"It was his severe action toward the child that resulted in brain hemorrhaging," Davis said.

Virden also faces a charge of grand larceny stemming from a separate incident. The indictment states that Virden stole a 1997 Mercury Sable on July 25.

The burglaries of two Newell businesses resulted in indictments against Matthew J. Mazza, 49, of Newell, and Donald J. Johnson, 57, of East Liverpool.

The men are accused of, on Aug. 7 and 13, breaking into a Newell warehouse and stealing expensive brass fittings and parts belonging to the Marsh Bellofram Group of Companies, of Newell.

Davis said the men were selling the parts for scrap. "There was probably $40,000 in material and parts that was stolen. This is very expensive and precision-type equipment," he said.

In one instance, the men were caught red-handed in the process of stealing the parts from the warehouse, which was being leased by Marsh Bellofram, Davis said.

"They had in their possession over $7,000 in brass fittings," he said. "This was an ongoing problem that was serious enough that the (Hancock County) sheriff's office had a special surveillance operation that was going to be set up."

Mazza and Johnson are charged with three counts of entry of a building other than a dwelling and one count each of grand larceny and conspiracy.

The indictment states that, on July 15, the men also broke into and burglarized C. Hackett Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Newell.

 
 

 

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