Belknap sentenced in quadruple slayings - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Belknap sentenced in quadruple slayings

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SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) -- A Nicholas County man who pleaded guilty in the killings of two adults and two children has been sentenced to four life terms.

James Roy Belknap was sentenced Wednesday in Nicholas County Circuit Court. He pleaded guilty earlier this month to four counts of first-degree murder.

The 27-year-old Leivasy resident was charged with fatally shooting Steven Leroy Hendrix, Amber Martin and Hendrix's two young children. The victims' bodies were found on May 26, 2012. Police said the victims had been stripped and their bodies were dumped down a mountainside.

A criminal complaint says the shootings occurred over a drug debt. Belknap was arrested two days later at a police roadblock.

Dozens of family members attended the Wednesday sentencing. Many submitted written statements while others approached the stand to address Belknap.

"He's sick. Anybody killing little kids over a little money or drugs needs help. And he'll need help for where he goes," said Bruce Martin, father of one of the victims.

Belknap did not address the court during the sentencing, but asked his attorney to apologize for him.

In 2006, Belknap's father, Kenneth Belknap, was sentenced in Nicholas County to life in prison with the possibility of parole for first-degree murder. James Belknap pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge in the same case, and prosecutors dismissed a murder indictment against the son, according to court records.

An account of court testimony in The Register-Herald indicated the victim, Richard Parnell, was shot in a dispute over a cocaine deal and his body was then set on fire. Kenneth Belknap said his son had no involvement in Parnell's killing.

The state Division of Corrections has said that James Belknap was released from prison in 2009.

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