Slain sheriff's widow: "I will stand up for him until the day I die"
It goes like this: Rosie Crum drives to the cemetery, fixes the wreath in front of her husband's grave, then plays the same song in her truck.
"It's perfect," she says. "It says everything perfectly."
But the widow worries Sheriff Eugene Crum may not be resting in peace. Sexual abuse accusations, drug allegations and a federal investigation spanning Mingo County have all cast a shadow on the man's legacy.
But Rosie, his wife of 37 years, says she remembers Eugene the way she wants to.
"I'm the only one he's got," she said. "And I will stand up for him until the day I die."
Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum was shot at point blank range in downtown Williamson on April 3, 2013. Investigators say he was sitting in his cruiser eating lunch. Rosie was visiting family in Indiana. She says her guilt alone is enough to kill her.
"It kills me everyday to sit and think of him in that cruiser," Rosie said. "Laying in the seat."
Tennis Maynard, of Delbarton, is accused of murdering the sheriff. Mingo County deputies apprehended Maynard as he was traveling down Route 52, shooting him several times. He's also accused of pointing a gun in a deputy's direction while trying to flee the scene.
Cabell County Judge Paul Farrell recently postponed Maynard's trial indefinitely. Repeated calls to Maynard's attorney, Richard Weston, went unanswered Wednesday, April 2.
In May 2013, Maynard pleaded not guilty to shooting and killing Crum.
Rosie said the sooner the trial starts, the sooner she can start healing. She believes Maynard is guilty.
"He took my life. He took my love, my husband, my children's dad," Rosie said.
A conflict of interest prompted then-prosecutor Michael Sparks to recuse himself from the case. The Kanawha County Prosecutor's Office accepted the case in September 2013. Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants said in a phone interview in September that he and Senior Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Fred Giggenbach would be handling the case.
Plants recently became the center of his own controversy. The prosecutor turned himself in Monday after he was charged with domestic battery. He is accused of abusing his son. Plants was also arrested in March. State Police say Plants violated a Domestic Violence Protection order.
Plants has maintained his innocence, stating he is "not guilty of any criminal conduct."
"None of these allegations affect my duties," Plants said during a phone interview Wednesday.
Rosie said she hopes Plants stays on the case, citing the hard work invested in the case.
"I hope they leave them on there," Rosie said. "I think they've done a wonderful job so far."
But the Crums' lives really turned upside down last fall. Federal prosecutors named Crum in a corruption probe in September 2013. An information filed in federal court claimed Crum illegally obtained pills from a local signmaker, George White.
Documents state Crum then conspired with three other elected officials to deprive White of his rights. Former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks, and former Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden all pleaded guilty in federal court.
Rosie has firmly denied accusations about the sheriff using drugs.
"My husband was against drugs. He fought drugs, he's fought drugs all his life," she said.
The widow said she chooses to spend Thursday celebrating Eugene's life--not his murder.
"Some may not think that he was a hero. But he was my hero and my friends and family's hero. He will always be my hero."
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