By the time the multiple jurisdictions in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina sort out the various charges against Floyd Countian Steven Dale Branscome (right), the 32-year-old man will probably spent what’s left of his life behind bars.
At a hearing Friday in Princeton, West Virginia, a judge certified Branscome case to a grand jury on charges of malicious wounding, wanton endangerment and burglary. Other charges are pending in Virginia and North Carolina.
It will be a sad but fitting ending for the grandson of a popular former sheriff of Floyd County and the object of a manhunt that turned the county into an armed camp for a week while hundreds of cops from multiple jurisdictions manned road blocks, cruised the roads in an armored vehicle and searched the countryside for a fugitive who was long gone by midweek and headed for Mexico.
Branscome is charged with shooting a Virginia State Trooper after a chase ended in West Virginia. When you shoot a cop, the gloves come off and the normal rules don’t apply. Law enforcement from around the state swarmed into Floyd County after a Sheriff’s investigator spotted Branscome in Indian Valley. The weeklong chase ended in a motel near Texarkana when Texas Rangers and Federal Marshals cornered the fugitive.
West Virginia officials originally charged Branscome with malicious wounding of a police officers but his lawyers found loophole that said such a charge must involve a "West Virginia" cop so the judge reduced the charge to just malicious wounding. But a grand jury could still decide to reinstate the original charge.
Floyd County Supervisors have asked Sheriff Shannon Zeman for an accounting of what the massive manhunt cost local government. Zeman’s preliminary report said the State Police will pay most of the cost and more information is expected when Supervisors meet next week.
Writes Shawna Morrison in The Roanoke Times:
Officials have said Branscome will likely be charged in Virginia with grand larceny and other crimes and in North Carolina with charges related to two stolen vehicles.
He is being tried first in West Virginia where he faces the more serious charges.
Before Hughes’ shooting, Branscome was already wanted on several outstanding warrants in Virginia.
In Wythe County, he was wanted in connection with burglaries and thefts at a home and business.
He was wanted in Pulaski County on a charge of communicating threats to kill. And in Floyd County he was wanted on a probation violation.