Hall Guilty in Murder of Kane Roush
EDITOR’S NOTE: Some readers may find portions of this article disturbing.
POMEROY, Ohio – One man has been found guilty in the brutal murder of Kane Roush on April 4, 2021 at the victim’s Pomeroy residence.
Jaquan Hall, one of three charged in the death of Kane Roush, was found guilty on all charges by a Meigs County jury after deliberating for about three hours.
Keontae Nelson and Richard Walker, Jr. are also charged in the murder of Roush. Walker has already entered a guilty plea. Walker is scheduled for sentencing on October 31. Nelson is scheduled for trial to begin October 17.
Meigs County Common Pleas Judge Linda Warner presided over the trial with Meigs County Prosecutor James Stanley handling the case for the prosecution with assistance at times from Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Adkins. George Cosenza represented Hall. The trial began with a week long jury selection process. Testimony began on September 27, 2022. Opening statements concluded and the jury was given the case for deliberation on October 4, 2022 at 11:44 a.m. The jury returned the verdict about 4 p.m.
“It has been a long road since April 4, 2021,” said Prosecutor Stanley after the verdict was read. ”I’m glad to get some beginning of closure for the family in this case.”
Hall is scheduled to be sentenced on November 14. He faces a maximum of life without the possibility of parole.
Guilty – Count One – (Unclassified Felony) Aggravated Murder, did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the death of another, to-wit, Kane Roush.
Guilty – Count Two – (Unclassified Felony) Murder, did purposely cause the death of another, to-wit Kane Roush.
Guilty – Count Three – (Unclassified Felony) Complicity to Aggravated Murder or Murder, did acting with the kind of culpability required for the commission of an offense, aid or abet another committing the offenses of Aggravated Murder or Murder.
Guilty – Count Four – (First Degree Felony) Conspiracy, did, with purpose to commit or to promote or facilitate the commission of Aggravated Murder or Murder, agree with another person or persons that one or more of them will engage in conduct that facilitates the commission of any of the specified offenses.
Yes on both Specifications to Counts One and Two – A firearm was on or about his person or under his control while committing the offenses in Counts One and Two.
Stanley went through each person’s testimony in the case, outlining the prosecution’s case against Hall. He pointed out Hall’s own words in a letter to Nelson, “Keep it to the script.” Stanley told the jury, “Keontae does not need a script if he is telling the truth. The truth is easy, lies are hard.”
As far as Walker’s changing of stories when intereviewed by law enforcement Stanley said, “How many people arrested for murder do you think admit to it right away,” and continued to state that Walker’s testimony matches the evidence at the scene. Walker received a plea deal from the state with some charges dropped, but Walker faces at a minimum of 15 years and up to 20.5 years for his part in the death of Roush. Stanley explained that to the jury and the deal was made after consulting with law enforcement and Roush’s parents. He stated the deal should not weigh against Walker’s testimony though. Stanley said the testimony should be weighed with “grave suspicion” according to the law, but asked the jury if they believe what Walker said made sense and matched the physical evidence.
Stanley emphatically stated, “It was not a drug deal gone bad,” and went through the firearms the three brought with them that day. Nelson had the .45 and Hall had the shotgun. Walker was given what he called a “girl gun.”
“Keontae did not get the job done so the defendant had to finish him off,” Stanley said of the shots the state claimed were fired by Hall from the shotgun. One of the blasts was so close, the wadding was found embedded in Roush’s body.
Stanley said Hall made the conscious decision to shoot Roush in the back of the head, to shoot again and again with the shotgun with the final blast so close it had to kill Roush. Again, noting that all of Roush’s wounds were to the back of the man. Roush was attempting to get away, even crawling as he tried to fight for life.
“There was a lot of pressure placed on the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office,” Cosenza said as he began his closing argument. He talked about the “tremendous amount of pressure” law enforcement had on them to “get somebody, to blame somebody.”
“Justice for Kane does not mean convicting an innocent person,” Cosenza told the jury.
He said Roush knew Hall and could have identified him by name when asked who shot him, but did not.
Cosenza also went through issues with logging information into custody with the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office. He also said the prosecution is expecting the jury to give Walker every benefit of the doubt, but not Hall. “We have to fit the narrative to the assumption,” Cosenza said defending his client, stating that because Hall was there did not mean he was guilty. He said his client had been shot too.
As far as the letters from Hall presented as evidence, Cosenza said there were attempts to get someone to come forward to tell the truth. He claimed they were pleas to get someone to come forward.
He also talked about Walker’s five different interviews with different versions of what happened that fateful day. He said, “Finally (Walker) tells the one magic story.” He urged the jury to weigh the testimony with “grave suspicion.”
Of his client he said, “Nothing that ties him to this crim but speculation.” Cosenza then went into the burden of proof on the state for the case and reasonable doubt. “There is enough reasonable doubt in this case to go around.”
He ended with thanking the jury for their service on behalf of his client, his client’s family and himself, then said, “We trust that you will come to the righ decision in this case.”
Rebuttal from the Prosecution
Stanley gave the rebuttal from the prosecution. He said law enforcement did not have tunnel vision in the case, but followed up with all suspects and followed the evidence. He did concede, “Not all the evidence was handled the way I wanted it handled.”
He said there is no evidence of tampering with evidence in the case. He said the defense wants the jury to believe the state had some “epic failure” in the matter, but that was not the case.
The defense had talked about Hall basically being a scared kid. Of Hall Stanley said, “He is not a kid. He is 22 years old.”
Stanley noted that the three men drove an hour and a half one way to commit the murder. They had planned it, and had the entire drive there to consider what they were about to do.
He said Roush did not see who actually shot him because he was not facing the shooters. After being shot with the .45 multiple times, managing to get down the steps, possibly falling, Roush managed to get up. His femur was broken but the evidence showed he was up higher when the first shotgun blast hit him in the back of the head. He was on the ground for the remainder of the attack. He crawled trying to get help, trying to live.
Stanley went through the last words of Roush stating the victim did not have multiple opportunities to name anyone. He was dying. He was mortally wounded. Roush told EMS personnel, “Please don’t let me die” and the last words before slipping into unconsciousness were, “I’m fading.” Roush never woke up, never uttered another word. Stanley left the jury with the words that Hall was guilty of all the offenses including the specifications on using the firearm.
The jury was given a shot restroom break before the trial continued with jury instructions.
Judge Warner read through the entirety of the jury instructions in court. Each juror was also provided with written copies of the instructions. The jury was given the case at 11:44 a.m.
Summary of Days Three through Five of Testimony
During day three of testimony, the jury heard from Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) agents on the type of ammunition used to kill Roush. It was a lengthy process of admitting hundreds of photos from the crime scene in to evidence. The four fired casings from a .45 were found inside the house along with other items. Photos of the scene were admitted one by one into evidence. The procedure in which evidence is processed at BCI including DNA testing was heard. The guns in the case were not recovered. The shotgun used was not that found at the scene belonging to Roush. Roush’s .38 had not been fired. Bullets were the .38 were found spilled all over the living room of the residence.
Throughout the day, Cosenza continued to question the process in gathering evidence and the handling of it by the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office. Cosenza objected to items being admitted citing the chain of evidence custody was not established. His objection was overruled by Judge Warner. The items included a Crown Royal bag and a pair of shorts. The shorts came back with DNA from Hall. The Crown Royal bag had touch DNA as well. The question of how the Crown Royal bag with ammunition of the same type used in the shooting was found in the bag. The bag was discovered sitting on a deputy’s cruiser. No one knows how it got there.
Matthew White, a firearm examiner with BCI, testified that lead pellets were removed from the body of Roush during the autopsy. Roush was shot multiple times with a shotgun. The shot was turkey shot. White said a total of 79 pellets were taken from Roush’s body.
The fourth day of testimony began with Officer Bryan Pauley of the Charleston Police Department. He testified to seeing Hall in the emergency department of the Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC). Hall was being treated for a gun shot wound. Officer Pauley testified that Hall had given them a false name and said he had been shot at a party on the East End of Charleston.
A West Virginia State Police Trooper testified to knowing the family and contacting Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood about the case. He worked to share information from the West Virginia side of the case including when Hall’s car was found.
Karson Tolliver testified to knowing Roush for years and going to school with him. She said they had a relationship that began her junior year, Roush’s senior year in 2014. She said eventually they developed “different views” but would stay in contact even after breaking up. She said that Roush did sell marijuana to his close friends. She said she was not aware of Hall ever being at the house when she was and that she was unaware of Roush selling any marijuana to Hall. Tolliver testified Roush had two firearms, a .38 and a shotgun. Tolliver said the day before the shooting, she had seen a text from Danielle Runyon on Roush’s phone. Tolliver left to spend the night at her residence, but was texting Roush back and forth until about 2 a.m. on April 4, 2021. She said they were trying to decide where their relationship stood. She also clarified the state of the home the last time she was there and that certain items were not overturned, in disarray, before.
Jennifer Lester, criminal analyst with BCI, testified to phone records including pings on Roush’s phone. His phone was found along a roadway. The process of obtaining and then reading the records obtained by BCI from AT&T was explained. She said the records indicated that from 4:48 a.m. to 5:05 a.m. the phone was moving, it was not at Roush’s residence. Calls from Hall were part of this testimony as well. Hall’s phone was off prior to the incident with the last activity being at 8:30 p.m. the night before and nothing until 12 hours later. She also talked about looking into the social media accounts for Hall and Roush.
Deputy Thomas “Andy” Meyers testified he was the evidence technician at the Sheriff’s Office during the initial part of the case. He said initially there were more than 100 pieces of evidence to check into the office’s reporting system. All of it had to labeled with a bar code and entered into the system.
During this testimony, Cosenza continued to object to evidence not being handled properly in the case. Questioning the process and that according to the records, items had not been logged in. Cosenza questioned where they were. (Later testimony would say that the items were locked up, but not logged in.)
Senior Special Agent Jonathan Jenkins with BCI took the stand next and during his testimony noted of Roush, “Really had a will to live.” Special Agent Jenkins said the following the evidence in the case was not difficult. “It’s not rocket science,” he said of the way the case progressed with law enforcement following the evidence. During his time on the stand, he read through one of Hall’s letters intercepted at the Washington County Jail including the urging of Hall for others in the case to state it was “just a drug deal gone bad.”
More DNA analysis testimony was briefly heard. The jury heard the process in which evidence is tested at BCI.
Deputy Thomas Dillard testified as the current evidence technician for the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office. He said he picked up the duties as evidence technician after Deputy Meyers. Deputy Dillard explained the process of evidence items receiving bar codes and how evidence was locked up as it received. Deputy Dillard said some of the items were not “appropriately” checked in the system, but all evidence was locked in the evidence room. The items were not logged in correctly. Upon realizing the issue, it was corrected. The Roush case has hundreds of pieces of evidence. Dillard clearly explained that the evidence did have barcodes and was sealed properly. The seals to evidence were broken in the courtroom in front of the jury.
Under cross examination by Cosenza, Deputy Dillard said he basically had on the job training for his evidence technician duties, but he understands what his duties are. Cosenza tried throughout the trial to call into question the chain of evidence custody.
After cross, Judge Warner directly asked Deputy Dillard if the evidence was properly packaged and sealed. “It was all properly packaged and sealed,” Deputy Dillard stated.
Deputy Joe Barnhart testified as the initial lead investigator for the Sheriff’s Office in the case. Deputy Barnhart has since become a school resource officer. Deputy Barnhart talked about DNA results obtained from evidence of the crime scene and then the DNA of the defendant. He testified it matched Hall.
Sgt. Frank Stewart with the Major Crimes Task Force took the case over from Deputy Barnhart. Sgt. Stewart explained the process of evidence with projectiles removed from the body of Roush and a project removed from Hall. The evidence was all taken to BCI for analysis. He explained the chain of custody with evidence in the case.
Cosenza objected to the admission of the bullet casings found at the scene, an empty box of shells, the Crown Royal bag, projectiles from Roush’s body, a shotgun wad, .45 casings, shell casings, and DNA results from the shorts along with other DNA results. His objections were overruled and admitted into evidence.
The jury then heard from Richard Walker, Jr. Walker said he “used to hang out” with Hall. Stanley asked him questions going through each of the charges he faced and what Walker actually entered guilty pleas to in the case. Walker plead guilty to one count of Conspiracy, a felony of the first degree, and guilty to one count of Burglary, a felony of the second degree. Walker said Hall wanted to kill Roush because Hall said Roush was going reporting Hall for selling drugs. Later, it was mentioned in passing it involved Danielle Runyon. Walker said a week or so before the shooting, the plan to kill Roush was discussed among Hall, Nelson and Walker. He said Hall was the one to bring it up. He said Hall provided two of the guns used. Nelson had a .45. Hall brought a shotgun and what Walker called a “girl gun” that pink and black. Walker said he was handed the “girl gun” by Hall, but the gun was not working properly and would not do anything when the trigger was pulled. Hall had the shotgun. According to Walker, Hall drove his own car and parked across the street in the old Wild Horse parking lot in the early morning hours of April 4, 2021. They walked across the street and up to Roush’s home. Nelson knocked on the door and when Roush answered asked if he could use Roush’s phone. Roush had said he guessed so when Walker claimed Hall struck Roush with the butt of the shotgun. Roush stumbled back into the house. The three men then gained entry into the home. With Walker holding Roush at gun point with the “girl gun” the other two went through the house looking for marijuana and money. When it was apparent there was no marijuana to be found, they had taken Roush’s wallet, Walker said Hall looked at Nelson and said, “You know what to do.” At that, Roush apparently knew what was going to happen and attempted to run out of the house. He was shot repeatedly by Nelson with the .45 in the back. Roush did not face his assailants at anytime during the shootings, it was all to the back half of his body. According to Walker, Roush fell down the steps. He last saw him at the foot of the steps crawling toward the garage. Walker said he ran past Roush to get back to Hall’s car. He said Nelson was with him too. Hall was still there Roush. Walker said he heard two blasts of the shotgun. When Hall made it back to the car, he complained of being shot and had Walker drive the car back to Charleston, West Virginia. Along the way, Roush’s phone was tossed out of the car.
Walker’s testimony was heavily questioned by the defense. Cosenza went over the various times Walker was interviewed by law enforcement.
The amounts varied in Walker’s accounts but for several hundred dollars, Roush was brutally gunned down.
At the end of testimony from the state, the state rested. The defense did not present any witnesses. As is typical with such trials, the defense moved for a motion to dismiss. Judge Warner denied the motion. The jurors were dismissed for the day to return the next for closing arguments.
For more information on the trial or this case, click the links below.