Suspect in 1974 W.Va. slayings won’t be prosecuted
FAIRMONT, W.Va. (AP) – Marion County prosecutors plan to ask a court to dismiss murder and conspiracy charges against a man accused of killing three people in Fairmont 40 years ago.
The decision follows a recent West Virginia Supreme Court ruling that reinstated two unrelated first-degree murder convictions against Phillip Reese Bush.
Bush is serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole for the 1982 slayings of Charles Dale Goff and Kathleen Jane Williams in a cemetery in Fairmont.
Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Pat Wilson told media outlets Friday that the Supreme Court had finalized a memorandum reinstating the convictions. He said additional convictions will not add to Bush’s sentence.
Wilson also said dismissing the charges in the 1974 case will save the county tens of thousands of dollars in prosecution costs.
Bush and co-defendant Eddie Jack Washington were accused of killing 20-year-old Lester Phillips, 19-year-old Wanda Jane Phillips and 27-year-old Billy Ray Cobb at Windmill Park in Fairmont. The bodies of the three Fairmont residents were found next to each other on Aug. 2, 1974, along the far edge of the park behind tennis courts and a soccer field. All three had been shot in the head.
Washington entered an Alford plea to three counts of conspiracy to commit a felony in November 2013 in the middle of his trial. An Alford plea acknowledges the state has sufficient evidence to prosecute but is not an admission of guilt.