UPDATE: Griffith sentenced to six years for 2017 shooting death

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Update: 9/09/2019 5:50 P.M.

In making two motions that were denied in court, Stephen Griffith's attorney continued to state that Griffith acted in self-defense in shooting Chad Hart to death at a Parkersburg sports bar in May, 2017.

"Mr. Hart is outside with his gun pulled, and (a witness) says he is coercing Mr. Griffith to pull the trigger," said attorney Bill Merriman, referring to a surveillance camera video shown during Griffith's trial in August.

"The 12 members of the community (the jury) determined he did not act in self-defense," Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure responded, "and, in fact, found along with the state's argument that he actually escalated the situation."

There were statements made in court Monday that members of both the defendant's and victims' families made threats to each other, after the August verdict.

"My own and my family's safety and security has been jeopardized with no revenge or retaliation on my part," Griffith said while addressing the court and Hart's family.

Chad Hart's mother, Sharon, then told of a recent encounter she had with a member of Griffith's family.

"(Griffith's) father told me, right to my face, 'Chad deserved what he got.'," she said in court.

Wood County Circuit Judge Robert Waters set aside the jury's guilty verdict on brandishing, but sentenced Griffith to a total of six years in prison.

"Because of the actions of Mr. Griffith on that night," Judge Waters explained, "Chad Hart is deceased and was unlawfully killed, according to the verdict of the jury."

A member of Griffith's family was turned down in a request to address the court. After the sentencing the family turned down our request for an interview.

Update: 9/09/2019 11:00 A.M.

Stephen Griffith is sentenced to six years in prison, for the May, 2017 shooting death of Chad Hart.

He received one year for involuntary manslaughter, and five years for wanton endangerment.

Judge Robert Waters, on a motion from Griffith's attorney, set aside Griffith's conviction for brandishing. Attorney Bill Merriman argued that was essentially the same as the wanton endangerment charge.

We'll have more on this story on our newscasts, and later at wtap.com.

Update: 8/16/2019 6:25 P.M.

Stephen Griffith Friday was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, wanton endangerment with a firearm and brandishing, for the shooting death of Chad Hart.

The trial was set after Hart's family objected back in March, when a plea agreement was sought for Griffith, where he would have pled guilty to the brandishing charge.

"We just think everybody did a fantastic job," Hart's aunt, Teri Gandee, said after the verdict was announced. "We really do appreciate everything they did do. And they figured out what the real truth was."

Hart was shot to death after an argument began, when he offered a ride to a female customer at the Overtime Sports Bar on Emerson Avenue.

Testimony Thursday revealed Hart had significant amounts of alcohol and methamphetamine in his system.

"My son didn't drink, and when they said he had been drinking, it shocked me," said Hart's mother, Sharon. "And my son was a good person; he would have tried to help anybody out, no matter what the consequences. The consequences this time took his life."

There was no open reaction to the verdict, but after an incident during the trial Thursday, additional officers were present in court.

Griffith faces up to six years in prison, when he is sentenced September 9.

UPDATE: 8/16/19 12:15 P.M.

Stephen Griffith has been found guilty on all counts in the May 2017 shooting death of Chad Hart outside a Parkersburg sports bar.

Griffith went on trial on Wednesday in Wood County Circuit Court, and the jury returned its verdict just after noon on Friday.

We have a reporter in the courtroom and will have updates online and during WTAP News @ 5 and 6.

UPDATE: 8/15/5:15 P.M.

Jurors in Wood County Circuit Court will resume deliberations Friday morning in the case of a man accused in a fatal shooting outside a Parkersburg bar in May 2017.

The panel deliberating in the trial of Stephen Griffith, accused of felony wanton endangerment and misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter in the death of Chad Hart, met for less than an hour Thursday afternoon before wrapping up for the day.

The trial began on Wednesday and included testimony from bar patrons and Griffith, who said he shot Hart in self defense.

UPDATE: 8/15/19 4:45 P.M.

Jurors in Wood County Circuit Court have begun deliberations in the case of a man accused in a fatal shooting outside a Parkersburg bar in May 2017.

Stephen Griffith, accused of felony wanton endangerment and misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter in the death of Chad Hart, went on trial Wednesday.

Griffith testified Thursday afternoon that he shot Hart in self defense.

Several patrons of the Overtime Sports Bar on Emerson Avenue testified earlier Thursday.

Attorneys for both sides wrapped up closings arguments late Thursday afternoon, and the jury began deliberations about 4:20 p.m.

We have a reporter in the courtroom and will have updates online and during our evening newscasts as new information becomes available.

Update: 8/15/2019 3:00 P.M.

Stephen Griffith, accused in the shooting death of Chad Hart in May, 2017, took the stand Thursday afternoon, maintaining he shot Chad Hart to death in self-defense.

He says he did so after an argument involving Hart and an acquaintance of Griffith's, that began after Hart offered a ride to a female who accompanied Griffith and his companion to the an Emerson Avenue bar on May 7, 2017.

In earlier testimony Thursday, a bar patron who knew Griffith said he believed the defendant first fire a shot at Hart in the bar's parking lot.

A friend of Hart's said he heard someone threaten Hart before the shooting began, saying the men argued

"In my rear-view mirror, I see someone coming across the parking lot, and I heard a chamber drop, a shell drop in the chamber, and 'I got something for you, (expletive)', Dennis Mott told the jury. "And I heard a shell chamber and a semi-automatic weapon."

Both witnesses said the argument that led to the shooting started when Hart offered a ride to a female customer, Jennifer McGrew. Prosecutors could not reach McGrew to testify in Griffith's trial.

Both the prosecution and defense rested right after Griffith's testimony. Closing statements in the trial began late this afternoon.

Update: 8/14/2019 5:50 P.M.

Parkersburg Police officers took the stand Wednesday, in the first day of testimony in the trial of Stephen Griffith.

Surveillance video taken by a camera at an Emerson Avenue sports bar where the shooting death of Chad Hart took place, showed the shooting in the early morning hours of May 7, 2017.

Officer Nathaniel Wood, then a Parkersburg police detective, obtained both evidence and witness statements from that night.

The video shown the jury Wednesday afternoon appears to show Griffith firing a shot in the direction of Hart, as the victim was driving away from the bar's parking lot.

Officer Wood says the video does not show whether Hart first fired a shot at Griffith.

Griffith is charged with a misdemeanor count of involuntary manslaughter, and a felony count of wanton endangerment with a firearm.

Update 8/14/2019

The trial of Stephen Griffith, accused in the shooting death of Chad Hart in May, 2017, begins today in Wood County Circuit Court.

Update: 3/8/2019

A trial is now scheduled for the end of May, for a man accused in a shooting death outside a Parkersburg bar nearly two years ago.

Stephen Griffith was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday for the May, 2017 shooting death of Chad Hart. But Circuit Judge Robert Waters rejected his no contest plea to a charge of brandishing, over concerns about the evidence in the case.

Members of Hart's family, who were in the courtroom for the hearing, disagree with a Parkersburg Police report on the incident, that says Hart fired at Griffith before Griffith shot him.

"There were a lot of things that were not investigated, that should have been investigated," Hart's mother Sharon, claimed after the hearing. "If they would have done their job, there would have been a different outlook on the situation."

Hart's mother says he had gone to the Overtime Sports Bar to play pool the night of the shooting.

Griffith was indicted by the Wood County Grand Jury for involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor, and wanton endangerment with a firearm, a felony.

His trial is now scheduled for May 29.

No arrests have been made in the aftermath of Sunday morning's fatal shooting at the Overtime Sports Bar because police say it's being investigated as possible self defense.

Parkersburg Police say Stephen Griffith, 32, of Parkersburg, fatally shot Chad Hart, 38, outside the bar about 1 a.m. Sunday after the two men argued.

Investigators say evidence in the shooting will likely be presented to a Wood County grand jury.

West Virginia state code allows firearms inside a bar. However, businesses have the right to ban them from their premises.

The Overtime Bar has signs asking customers to leave their guns behind.


A Parkersburg man is dead following a dispute at Overtime Sports Bar on Emerson Avenue in Parkersburg.

Parkersburg Police say Chad Allen Hart, 38, was involved in a short verbal altercation with Stephen R. Griffith, 32, of Parkersburg, as they exited the bar around 1 a.m. Sunday morning.

Both men were armed with handguns.

Hart fired one round at Griffith. Griffith returned fire and struck the vehicle Hart was getting into. The bullet struck Hart and he began to lose consciousness as he drove out of the parking lot. His vehicle crossed Emerson Avenue and struck a retaining wall. Hart was taken to Camden Clark Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Griffith was questioned and released by police.

Police are not releasing the motive as of yet.

The case will be presented to a grand jury to see if it needs to go to trial.

If you have any information about the case, you are asked to call the Parkersburg Police Detective Bureau at 304-424-8440.

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