HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A man who told police he killed his 94-year-old grandfather made a video of the killing and sent it to family members, a police officer in West Virginia said Thursday.
Seth Ellis Donald, 36, who is charged with first-degree murder, was extradited to West Virginia last week after telling Beverly Hills, California, police that he killed Maurice “Moe” Sill of Huntington, news outlets reported. Sill was thought to have died of natural causes in 2019 at a retirement center outside Huntington.
Chief Cabell County Magistrate Dan Ferguson ruled during a preliminary hearing Thursday that there was enough evidence to send the case to a grand jury, The Herald-Dispatch reported.
Defense attorneys Bob Wible and Claude Sigley argued that there was no physical evidence from the scene and that they had not authenticated the video. Prosecutors Lauren Plymale and Tyler Shoub said Donald’s taped confession and the video were sufficient evidence.
Huntington police Sgt. Jason Davis said officers responded to a call Donald made regarding an unattended death. Donald said Sill had a medical episode while they were at a nearby lake area and fell face-first to the ground. Donald said he wasn’t able to revive Sill or drag him back to the retirement center.
Davis said Donald’s story was believable enough and Sill’s wounds matched the story so well that the medical examiner didn’t respond to the scene.
Davis said Donald made a 9-minute video of the killing that shows the pair rolling on the ground while Donald covered Sill’s face with a rag.
Donald is accused of sending the video to family members and friends, Davis said, which led to a call from a family friend to local police in 2020 saying the death might be questionable. After Covid-19 hit, the investigation was delayed, the newspaper said.
Sill’s obituary said he retired from the department of sociology and anthropology at Marshall in 1990.