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Man gets 50 years for killing former resident

Thursday, September 23, 2004

SHERMAN, Texas - Just over a year after the murder of a former Southeast Missouri resident, his family says justice is served.

Scott McMenamy, 31, a resident of Denison, Texas, was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 50 years in prison for the shooting death of James West, 29. West, born and raised in New Madrid County, Mo., was shot and killed on Aug. 21, 2003, in front of a house in Denison.

During the trial, which began Sept. 1 and ended Sept. 10, the court room was filled with members of West's family, many of whom traveled from Missouri to watch the proceedings.

New Madrid County resident Janette Farmer said although the experience was very emotional for them, she believes the sentence handed down by the nine men and three women who served on the jury was just.

"If you add 50 years to that man's life he will be 81 years old if he serves the entire sentence; he will be 56 before he is eligible even for parole. I believe the jury was fair in their decision," she said.

While some have commented that a life sentence would have been more equitable, Farmer said she knows it seems harsh to the family of the man who was found guilty of killing her brother. She acknowledged that after seeing his family during the trial, she realizes they are suffering too.

The victim's family and family of the man accused for shooting West each took up a side of the courtroom.

During the trial, evidence was presented about the shooting and the bad relationship between McMenamy and West. McMenamy, who took the stand in his own defense, admitted shooting West but claimed self-defense.

In an article from the Herald Democrat by Jerrie Whiteley, it was reported that the Dallas medical examiner Dr. Sheila Sportswood testified the fatal bullet entered West's back, just behind his left arm. The bullet went through the chest, hit a rib and his lung before smashing into his pulmonary artery. It then went back through his lung again before exiting his right arm.

Also West received wounds to his legs and abdomen.

There was no evidence West fired a gun before his death and a witness at the scene noted he was unarmed.

After firing the shots McMenamy fled the scene and was later captured in a Dallas hotel. A gun was recovered that linked McMenamy to the shooting.

Farmer said some of the evidence was hard for their family to see and hear. The second day of the trial as the prosecution displayed the clothes her brother had on at the time he was shot and photos of the murder scene, she said family members became so distraught they were asked to leave the courtroom.

After six days of testimony, the case went to the jurors who deliberated less than two hours before returning the guilty verdict. The judge requested a pre-sentence investigation before the sentencing phase of the trial.

On the final day of the trial, Sept. 10, Farmer and her sister were allowed to tell the jurors about the impact of their brother's death on the family.

"It was cold - very cold the way he done my brother. ... He was so cold through the whole trial, he never showed any emotion even when they sentenced him to 50 years," said Farmer, who still tears up as she talks about the events. During her statement she said she became very emotional, wanting McMenamy to hurt as much as she was hurt by her brother's death. "But I didn't know how I could make him hurt like I was hurting. My mother later said no one can make him suffer but himself. If he has a conscience, he will realize he has made not only our family suffer but his own family, too."

During the trial, the defense attorney Bobbie Peterson called for a mistrial. At its conclusion she said she will file an appeal in the case immediately and will likely also request a new trial.

However Assistant Grayson County Prosecuting Attorney Jodi Brown, who handled the case for the state, told the Herald Democrat she doesn't anticipate the case will go any further.

Farmer praised Brown's efforts in the case but added if there was a retrial, she and her family would return to Texas and be in the court room. She said she knows even after one trial, it would be difficult to go through it again.

"You would think you would get closure from something like this but honestly it reopens all the wounds that you have buried," said Farmer. "That man is in jail but we will never get my brother back."