Gate City, VA -- On Friday July 9, 2021, after a four-day trial, a jury returned guilty verdicts for First-Degree Murder and Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony regarding a series of incidents that happened on May 3, 2018. The Commonwealth presented evidence that John Robert Martin, Jr. of Hawkins County, TN, murdered Nicholas Pierce aka Nicholas Salerno after he discovered that Nicholas was in a relationship with Martin’s wife, who had filed for divorce. The Commonwealth proved that Martin shot Nicholas multiple times in the Yuma section of Scott County. Martin and his wife testified that he took a photograph of Nicholas after the murder. Martin then drove back to his home in Hawkins County, TN, where he tied up his wife with zip ties and showed her the photograph of Nicholas. Russell County Commonwealth’s Attorney Zack Stoots indicated, “The conviction in this case was obtained due to the hard work of multiple law enforcement agencies over two states and the victim’s family is very appreciative.” Stoots also said, “Our office hopes this conviction will allow the healing process to begin for the family of Nicholas Salerno.” This case was investigated by the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, the Hawkins County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, and the Virginia State Police. Martin previously pled guilty to the abduction of his wife in Hawkins County, Tennessee. The case was prosecuted by Russell County Commonwealth’s Attorney Zack Stoots and Chief Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jessica Jackson. Commonwealth’s Attorney Zack Stoots was appointed special prosecutor by the Circuit Court in Scott County, Virginia. Martin is scheduled to be sentenced for the murder on November 3, 2021, in the Scott County, Virginia Circuit Court. ###
One person is dead after a crash in Lee County. Virginia State Police reports that a driver ran off the right side of Route 58A in Ben Hur. The car then went airborne and struck unoccupied parked cars and an unoccupied single-wide trailer. The driver was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected. Speed is believed to be a factor in the crash. The name of the person who died has not been released. The crash remains under investigation.
A fire kills an 8-month-old infant girl in Appalachia Monday morning. Virginia State Police reports that the Appalachia Fire Department responded to the fire in the 1300 block of Lower Exeter Road at 6:09 a.m. Monday. A 30-year-old woman and 3-year-old boy were able to escape the burning house, but the remains of an 8-month-old girl were found after the fire was put out. The remains have been taken to Lonesome Pine Hospital, where she has been released. According to the VSP, the fire does not appear to be suspicious, but it remains under investigation.
Senator Mark Warner hopes that tech jobs will be coming to Southwest Virginia. The Virginia Senator spoke in Bristol on Friday with local leaders about the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, that Congress has recently passed. The act would allow the U.S. to invest $250 billion in technology to compete with China. Warner says that one proposal will be to have 18 technology hubs, with six being in rural communities, and he hopes that one of them will be in Southwest Virginia. The senator says that there is a great workforce in the region, with smart people. According to Warner, the goal is to also have facilities that manufacture chips used in electronics after the recent shortage in car and other industries.
A Scott County man has been arrested for exposing himself to a girl he helped coach. The Scott County Sheriff's Office reports that 65-year-old James "Jimbo" Everette Stidham, of Dungannon, has been charged with eight counts of using an electronic device with lascivious content to contact someone under the age of 18. An investigation began on June 21 after parents contacted the SCSO about Stidham exposing himself to their daughter, who he helped coach. The authorities were given permission to monitor their daughter's account and an undercover officer began conversations with Stidham over social media. The conversation lasted a week, and Stidham solicited nude photos from the minor on multiple occasions and sent an explicit photo of himself. He later agreed to an arranged meeting at a church parking lot in the Yuma community on June 28. Stidham arrived and was arrested by the sheriff's office. He also brought items that were specified in the conversation. If any other parents are concerned, they should contact the Scott County Sheriff's Office at 276-386-7679.
39 people were arrested on Thursday following a sting operation in Dickenson County. The Dickenson County Sheriff's Office reports that several law enforcement agencies arrested the large group, which led to 106 charges. The charges range from selling narcotics to felony child abuse and neglect, according to the DCSO. The 29th Circuit Narcotics Task Force, Virginia State Police, the Buchanan and Wise County Sheriff's Offices, and the Clintwood, Clinchco, and Haysi Police Departments were involved in the sting. Peer recovery specialists were brought in to discuss available treatment options and other resources for those who were interested.
More than 750,000 adult Medicaid members will receive dental benefits in Virginia. Governor Ralph Northam announced on Thursday that Virginia is expanding comprehensive dental benefits to more than 750,000 adult Medicaid members effective immediately. Children and pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid, Family Access to Medical Insurance Security, and FAMIS MOMS were previously eligible to receive dental care. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that it is part of a two-year state budget that includes $35 million in state and federal funds to provide a range of dental care to adults for the first time. The new benefits cover up to three regular cleanings a year as well as preventive care, x-rays, fillings, dentures, and oral surgeries. Medicaid members can contact a DentaQuest representative at 1-888-912-3456 to find a dentist and learn more about the new dental benefit.
One person was rescued in Laurel County, Kentucky after being swept away by flood water. The London-Laurel Rescue Squad reports that crews were called to American Greeting Card Road Thursday evening on a report of a missing woman. Upon arrival, crews found articles of clothing on the bank of Horse Creek. Swift water teams were deployed and were able to find the woman about 1/4 of a mile downstream on the creek bank. She reportedly told officials that she just wanted to get her feet wet when the water carried her away.
A woman was fatally shot in an officer-involved shooting in Kingsport Thursday morning. The Kingsport Police Department reports that they were called to the West Side Inn in the 1000 block of West Stone Drive due to reports of a woman knocking on a door with a gun at around 5:20 a.m. Thursday. Upon arrival, officers found 54-year-old Lisa Short with a pistol. Short was told multiple times to drop the gun, but did not. One officer reportedly fired his weapon and hit the suspect. Short was transported to a nearby hospital, where she later died. Nobody else was injured in the shooting. The officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting.
A Lebanon man pleads guilty to distributing porn through a messaging app. The Department of Justice reports that 40-year-old Matthew Thompson used the "KIK" app to talk to people he believed were interested in trading images of child pornography. In June 2020, Thompson was identified by law enforcement in Wisconsin as the person responsible for the distribution of child porn after allegedly posting explicit material on the app's message board. Last July, Texas authorities found that the same account was an active member of two known child pornography chatgroups and an administrator of one. An investigation found that he distributed at least nine images between July 24-31, and had received child pornography, as well. Thompson plead guilty on Wednesday to one count of "knowingly distributing one or more visual depictions of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct that has been mailed or transported in interstate or foreign commerce." His sentencing is scheduled for September 29 and he faces 60 to 72 months as part of his plea agreement.