POINT PLEASANT — The man accused of shooting René Gonzalez to death on a front porch in Gallipolis Ferry, has pleaded guilty to second degree murder.
Steven L. Adkins, Jr., 27, Apple Grove, entered his plea in front of Judge David W. Nibert on Friday in Mason County Circuit Court. The plea agreement recommends Adkins face a prison sentence of 40 years for killing Gonzalez in July 2011.
Adkins, who was set to go to trial on Feb. 18, was represented by his Attorneys Bryan Cromley and Nate Chapman. The state was represented by Special Prosecutor Chris Chiles. Cpl. B.L. Keefer from the Mason County Post of the West Virginia State Police, the lead investigator, was also present on Friday.
Nibert asked Adkins if he’d discussed accepting this plea with family and friends as well as his attorneys. Adkins said he had and wished to proceed with the plea agreement. Cromley and Chapman also felt the plea was in the best interest of their client.
Chiles gave a brief summary of the evidence, and case, the state planned to present. Chiles said Gonzalez and a co-defendant in the case had an altercation shortly before Gonzalez’s death. This led to another co-defendant driving Adkins to Gonzalez’s home. Chiles said Adkins knocked on Gonzalez’s door, waited for him to open the door and then shot the victim twice.
Murder in the second degree is a lesser count contained in the 2012 indictment and eliminates the “deliberate intent” of the crime.
Adkins is to return for sentencing at 10 a.m., March. 21. Until then, the Mason County Probation Office is to compile a pre-sentencing report for Nibert to review before the sentence is actually handed down.
Adkins remains housed in the Western Regional Jail where he’s been booked since Oct. 6, 2011. Adkins had fought the charges since his arrest and appeared to be ready to take his case to trial, though trial dates had been postponed for many reasons, including the appointment and replacement of a special prosecuting attorney. The first special prosecutor was Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia with the second, and current special prosecutor being Chiles, the prosecuting attorney in Cabell County. There were also counsel changes granted in this case for the defense as well.