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Man gets 14 years for manslaughter

Charles Edens, seen with his attorney Mike Gleichauf, before being sentenced Thursday in front of Judge D. Scott Bowling in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

 

A “horrible choice” made one night last summer will send a Huntington, W.Va., man to prison for 14 years.

Charles Edens, 24, was sentenced Thursday morning in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court on one count of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the death of Auston James Wells. Edens pleaded guilty to the charge, which had been reduced from murder, two weeks ago.

Special prosecutor Paul Scarsella, of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, asked Judge D. Scott Bowling to hand down a maximum sentence of 11 years for the manslaughter. Because Edens used a gun to kill Wells, a three-year gun specification was added to the charge and it requires a state-mandated three-year prison sentence that must be served consecutively to the other sentence, making his total time behind bars 14 years. However, Edens’ attorney, J.T. Holt, said he expected to file a motion for judicial release at the 5-year mark, a matter agreed on by Scarsella.

Before Edens was sentenced, the victim’s mother, Mary Wells Gilmore, spoke to the packed courtroom and particularly to Edens.

“You killed a son, a brother, an uncle and a grandson,” Gilmore said. “You stole so much from Auston’s family. If you were in my shoes, how would you feel?”

Gilmore said during the hearing and afterward she strongly disagreed with the decision to amend the charge against Edens from murder to manslaughter and said she thought his sentence was a “slap on the wrist” compared to what he had done.

But Holt told Bowling that while this was a “tragic situation” and that Edens takes full responsibility for what he had done, the facts of the case were that on the night of the shooting, Wells was not involved in an argument between Edens and another person but had “thrust himself into it” and at one point, Wells had knocked Edens to the ground and was hitting him with his pistol before Edens reached for his own gun and shot Wells.

Holt read from the portion of Ohio Revised Code that specifies voluntary manslaughter is the result of a “sudden fit of passion.”

Holt said, “Mr. Edens deeply wishes this tragedy had not occurred and is truly remorseful.”

Gilmore said after the sentencing that Edens “got away with murder” in the death of her son. She said Edens came to where her son was and brought the violence to him.

“Self defense is one shot,” Gilmore said. “My son was shot five times.” This was at odds with the judge’s comment during the sentencing that Wells was shot three times.

But Patty Edens, an aunt of Charles Edens, said her nephew was a good man who wouldn’t intentionally hurt anyone.

Another aunt, Juanita Mount, said earlier in the day Edens and Wells hugged each other and Wells told Edens he loved him.

Charles Edens’ brother, Michael Edens said while he has sympathy for Auston Wells’ family, he contended, “My brother was a good man who was put in a bad situation.”