Defense seeks lesser charge for Gatewood murder trial

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Testimony began today in Kanawha County’s first murder trial since COVID-19 shut down the court system back in March.

Cynthia Gatewood is on trial for the murder of Cheryl Fisher in Cynthia Fisher vs. The State of West Virginia.

The trial is being held in the ceremonial room of the old Kanawha County Courthouse which was retrofitted to be as safe as possible due to COVID-19.

During Tuesday’s opening statements it was clear Cynthia Gatewood’s defense team is seeking a conviction on a lesser charge.

Surveillance video outside of the Sissoville tobacco shop where the murder happened back in September of 2018 was the strongest evidence jurors saw Tuesday.

The video shows Gatewood fatally stab Cheryl Fisher after waiting for her to come out of the tobacco shop following what could’ve been an argument, although the video just shows Fisher come back to shut her car alarm off.

“Don’t let the name of the case fool you, this case isn’t simply about Cynthia Gatewood, this case is about Cheryl Fisher; she was a mother, she was a grandmother, she was a caregiver in our community,” said Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Maryclaire Akers.

While prosecutors argued the facts are clearly there to convict Gatewood of first-degree murder, Gatewood’s defense attorney Richard Holicker says the case is a “puzzle.”

Holicker wants the jury to take into consideration the long-term effects methamphetamine use could’ve had on Gatewood’s actions that day.

“The mere fact that Ms. Gatewood inflicted fatal injuries on Mrs. Fisher, however, does not in and of itself make her guilty of the offense the state has charged,” he said.

“Some of you logical people may not understand what it was that set Ms. Gatwood off,” he said during opening statements.

The first witness to take the stand was Cheryl Fisher’s daughter Megan Burger, who never got to see her mother that week.

“She was going to come over to my house, we liked to spend time together,” she said before taking a moment to collect herself.

“She used to say it was to help me clean my house so she had a reason to be there to help.”

Gatewood’s former stepfather Larry Spralding also testified that he drove Gatewood to the tobacco shop in his truck that day and says he did not know Gatewood had a knife.

The trial is being overseen by Kanawha County Judge Joanna Tabit.

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