RONNIE RUSH WILL BE TRIED IN DECEMBER - Problems Surround Gruesome Murder Case

The Groves-Hicks double murder case may well be the bloodiest murders committed in Calhoun County. Close-range shotgun blasts killed Ward Groves and his ex-wife Mary Hicks while in their beds in May, 2003.

The murders could also be the most investigated in county history.

Prosecuting Attorney Matt Minney said a huge amount of work has gone into the double murder case.

The case seems to have had lots of problems coming to trial.

Sand Ridge resident Ronnie Rush, who was 16-years-old at the time, has been indicted on two counts of murder. He is now 18.

A hearing for Rush was postponed yesterday. Circuit Clerk Shelia Garretson said the postponement was because of the illness of an attorney.

That hearing has been re-scheduled for November 10. The case is scheduled to come to trial in December after one and one-half years.

Stumptown resident Bobby Ray Shamblin was originally accused of committing the crime, but he was released from jail because investigators could not place him at the scene of the crime.

Charges against Shamblin were filed at the time based on Rush's testimony. Rush claimed he was held at knife point by Shamblin and made to watch while Shamblin committed the shootings.

Court documents claim that Rush lied repeatedly about the crime and his personal involvement. They said there is "clear and convincing evidence that pre-trial statements given by Ronnie Rush ... were willfully and deliberately false or misleading."

Documents contend a primary motive for Rush to commit the crimes was "greed." The youth was connected to several different amounts of cash that could have come from the Groves residence, they said.

Rush was declared competent to stand trial after a series of psychiatric examinations by the court, although the youth reportedly presents problems related to his mental capabilities with indications he is developmentally disabled.

Judge Thomas Evans III ruled in May that Rush can be tried as an adult. A gag order was issued several months ago, but what effect it has on the case since Rush has legally reached 18 could be in question.

Now, problems with the trial have been compounded by an investigation of the investigators, in this case some officers of the West Virginia State Police.

The State Police declined a Freedom of Information request by the Hur Herald to identify what authority requested the investigation of their agency or who actually did the investigation.

The investigation regarding alleged mishandling of the case is sealed.

Public court documents describe incidents where an officer caused problems while a lie detector test was being given Rush.

The documents also indicate State Police officers could have violated Rush's civil rights.

State Police partially responded to an FOIA request over what officers investigated the crime, saying Sgt. J. L. Cooper investigated the incident. Other officers have taken the case since Cooper has been assigned to another detachment.

The youth was a longtime acquaintance of Groves, traveling with him and frequently staying with the well-known trader. Rush family members and Rush himself have said Groves was "like a father to him."

After inheriting a considerable amount of cash from his brother (court documents say about $170,000), Groves had purchased a house and had moved his ex-wife into the dwelling.

There were indications Ronnie Rush had a room in the dwelling, and had been staying there.

Rush had been helping Groves move, and was either in the house when the murders took place, or according to his statement, was nearby.

Court documents say the youth gave several different accounts of what happened the night of the murders.