September 17, 2013
WILLIAMSON (AP) — A former chief deputy was named permanent sheriff of Mingo County on Monday, replacing two interim sheriffs who have served since Eugene Crum was fatally shot on the job in April.
Sgt. James Smith will take over the department Tuesday. Media outlets say the County Commission chose him from among four candidates in a special meeting.
Commissioner John Mark Hubbard said each “had a true plan on how to move forward.”
Earlier this month, chief tax deputy Pam Dixon took over as interim sheriff after the widow of Eugene Crum resigned the post.
Rosie Crum had been tapped to serve as interim sheriff just days after her husband was shot while eating lunch in his car in downtown Williamson. The suspect, Tennis Maynard, is awaiting an October trial on murder charges.
“I know we’re being judged by the actions of a few right now, but there are some good people here,” Smith said, calling 2013 “a bad year for Mingo County.”
“We’ve got to get it turned around and get it going positive and in the right direction,” he said.
Maynard, 37, and Crum, who died April 3 at age 59, had known each other for years.
The former sheriff had was once a boxing club mentor to Maynard when the suspect was a teenager and when Crum was police chief in the town of Delbarton.
Last month, Maynard’s family claimed that Crum had raped the man now accused of killing him and said authorities ignored his reports about the attack. Prosecutor Michael Sparks has said that he found no evidence to support either allegation.
Crum had been a county magistrate for more than a decade when he stepped down to run for sheriff last year. He took office on Jan. 1, just three months before he was killed.
Mingo County has also been rocked by the recent criminal indictments of a judge and a county commissioner.
Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury has been charged with trying to frame the husband of his secretary for several crimes that federal prosecutors say the man didn’t commit.
Thornsbury was allegedly having an affair with the secretary and enlisted the help of several others, including a state trooper and a former Mingo County homeland security official serving as foreman of the grand jury.
Commissioner Dave Baisden, meanwhile, was charged with extortion in an unrelated case.
Baisden and Thornsbury have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.