POMEROY — A West Virginia man could spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty in Meigs County Common Pleas Court on Monday to aggravated murder.
Christopher M. Dailey, 44, of Sandyville, W.Va., formally changed his plea to guilty to the single count related to the shooting death of Brandon M. Lupardus, 30, of Millwood, W.Va.
By pleading guilty to aggravated murder, Dailey could have been sentenced to life in prison without parole or life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20, 25 or 30 years.
In entering into a plea agreement, the two sides agreed to a joint sentencing recommendation of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years.
Judge I. Carson Crow went along with the recommendation in sentencing Dailey after accepting his guilty plea.
The body of Lupardus was found on June 19 on the property of the Shelley Gravel Company in Portland by an employee of the company.
Meigs County Prosecutor Colleen Williams stated that Dailey did purposely and with prior calculation and design murder Lupardus. Williams said Lupardus died from a gunshot wound to the head, but did not elaborate further on the details of the crime. Williams stated that Dailey had admitted his guilt in an interview with BCI agents and in jail phone calls.
Public Defender Herman Carson stated that the defense did not contest the statement of facts by Williams and was stipulate that there was sufficient evidence for a finding of guilt.
When asked by Crow how he wished to plead to the charge of aggravated murder, Dailey stated, “guilty.”
Prior to sentencing, Kimberly Horn, the mother of Lupardus, addressed the court.
Horn recalled he son’s life before stating there were two things she wanted to know from the defendant — what it was that her son had done that led Dailey to end his life, and why he did it on Father’s Day weekend.
“If you ever find it in your heart to sit down with me and tell me why you did this, I am willing and ready to hear it,” said Horn. “Someday I hope I can forgive you.”
More on Horn’s statement to the court, as well as her statements to the Sentinel and other media outlets following the hearing will appear in Wednesday edition of The Daily Sentinel.
Following the statement by Horn, Crow asked Dailey if he had anything he would like to say. Dailey simply responded “no.”
No fine was imposed in the case, as Dailey is indigent and unable to pay a fine. He was ordered to pay restitution to the victim’s family in the amount of the funeral expenses ($4,371.03) and to pay court costs associated with the case. While not initially included in the plea agreement, the defense did not oppose the restitution.
Numerous agencies took part in the investigation and the arrest of Dailey the day after the body was discovered.
According to previous Sentinel reports, a tip enabled law enforcement officials to quickly identify Dailey as a possible suspect.
On the afternoon of June 19, Sheriff’s deputies secured the scene and Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called to assist in processing and investigation. The Meigs County coroner’s investigator was also present, and Williams was made aware of the pending investigation.
While still on site, deputies were informed by the Ripley (W.Va.) Police Department and the Jackson County (W.Va.) BCI that their offices had received information concerning the death of a West Virginia man in Ohio. They were told he had been shot in a gravel pit.
Details were relayed between both agencies, and the victim was positively identified as Lupardus
Meigs deputies, together with agents from Ohio BCI and Gallia-Meigs Task Force, detectives from Jackson County BCI, Jackson County (W.Va.) Sheriff’s Department, Ravenswood (W.Va.) Police Department, Ripley Police Department, Parkersburg (W.Va.) Police Department and the West Virginia State Police, worked through the night to locate Dailey.
He was taken into custody in Wood County, W.Va., and later brought back to Meigs County on the charge.
Williams praised the work of the agencies involved in the investigation and the conviction of Dailey.
Williams said that Dailey was the one who pulled the trigger in killing Lupardus, but acknowledged that there may have been others involved in the case although there are questions as to what involvement by other individuals could be proven or if it had taken place in Ohio or West Virginia.
While the plea and sentence of Dailey cannot bring Lupardus back, Williams said she hopes it can bring a sense of security in knowing that the man responsible is in prison.