A change of plea hearing in the case the State of West Virginia vs. Aaron Joseph Bussard was held July 17 in the Pocahontas County Circuit Court before the Honorable Judge Jennifer P. Dent.
Bussard was indicted by the April 2016 Grand Jury on two counts of first degree murder, one count, grand larceny, two counts, concealment of a deceased body, two counts, fraudulent use of credit cards, and one count, fraudulent schemes, following the November 25, 2016 discovery of the bodies of Timothy McDaniels and Shawn Cruikshanks McDaniels.
Courtroom notes from Pocahontas County Circuit Court Clerk Connie Carr report that in Tuesday’s hearing, Bussard tendered a written plea agreement to the court wherein he agreed to plead guilty to the felony offense of second degree murder, a lesser offense contained in Count I of the indictment, and pleaded guilty to the felony offense of voluntary manslaughter, a lesser offense contained in Count II of the indictment, with determinate sentences as to the second degree murder charge of not less than 10 years nor more than 40 years in the state penitentiary, and as to voluntary manslaughter of not less than three years nor more than 15 years, with sentences to run consecutively.
The court accepted Bussard’s plea and adjudged him guilty of the voluntary manslaughter of Shawn McDaniels and guilty of the second degree murder of Timothy McDaniels.
The defense waived the preparation of a pre-sentence investigation report. Defense counsel asked that Bussard be sentenced that day.
The state asked that maximum sentences be imposed.
The court sentenced Bussard to the state penitentiary for 40 years in the second degree murder of Timothy McDaniels, and to 15 years for the voluntary manslaughter of Shawn McDaniels.
The sentences will run consecutively.
Bussard was given 596 days credit for time served.
The state asked that the remaining counts in the indictment be dismissed as per the plea agreement.
The court assessed costs which are to be paid within two years after Bussard’s release from the penitentiary.
Bussard was remanded to the West Virginia Department of Corrections to begin his sentences.
Timothy McDaniels was a medically retired State Trooper, having served in the county from 1978 to 1991. He was wounded January 26, 1991 during a domestic investigation, an injury for which he received a Purple Heart.