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Woman Pleads Guilty In Death Of Son-In-Law

November 20, 1985 GMT

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. (AP) _ A 58-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to shooting and killing her son-in- law, whose mutilated body was found dangling from a bridge, prosecutors said.

Dorothy Grubb, of Layland, also pleaded guilty Tuesday to digging up her son-in-law’s body so she could cut his heart and lungs out to search for a bullet, said Fayette County Assistant Prosecutor Dwane Tinsley.

Mrs. Grubb was given a one- to five-year sentence after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter and a two- to five-year sentence for disinterrment, Tinsley said.


Fayette Judge J. Zane Summerfield suspended the sentence pending Mrs. Grubb’s application for probation. Tinsley said prosecutors would not fight the probation plea.

Mrs. Grubb was accused of killing James Duncan, 35, in January 1983.

″I didn’t intend to kill him,″ Grubb said at Tuesday’s hearing. ″I am guilty because I did shoot him.″

Mrs. Grubb’s daughter, Cleo Duncan, 37, was found innocent in August of killing her husband but convicted of digging up his body. She, too, has applied for probation.

Mrs. Duncan testified in her murder trial that her mother had fired the fatal shot.

State Police Cpl. Charles Shelton testified in August that Mrs. Duncan had told him that Duncan ″complained about there not being any hot food on the table, woke up the children and started chasing her around the kitchen with a .22-caliber rifle and a mattock.″

He also said Mrs. Grubb, who lived nearby, entered the house, grabbed the rifle from Duncan and shot him when he approached her. Then, he said, Mrs. Grubb had her grandsons bury Duncan about 130 yards from the house.

Shelton also quoted Mrs. Duncan as saying that Mrs. Grubb was concerned a few days later about the body being found and the bullet being traced, so she ″used a butcher knife to try to cut out the bullet. (Mrs.) Duncan explained to me that her mother cut out the lungs and heart and put them in plastic bags, which were later discarded.″

Testimony in the earlier case said that family members put the body in a car and drove to Wiggins Bridge near Hinton in early February 1983, but failed in their attempt to throw the body into a river. Shelton said the man’s foot got caught in the structure of the bridge, leaving him dangling.

He also said that one of the grandsons went under the bridge to free the body, but a police car drove by and the two women panicked and left the boy under the bridge.