George “Porgie” Lecco is accused of the murder of Carla Collins, whose body was found in a shallow grave in Newtown, two months after she was reported missing.
Collins was providing information to authorities about Lecco’s alleged drug activities.
In October of last year, Valerie Friend, 47, who was also charged in the murder, pleaded guilty, avoiding the death sentence.
A defendant can be sentenced to death in such a case since the victim was a federal informant.
Friend testified Lecco ordered her to kill Collins in order to protect the cocaine operation he was operating from his pizza restaurant in Red Jacket, near Matewan. Friend said she drove Collins to a deserted trailer in Newtown and shot her in the chest as well as beating her with a blunt object.
Friend said Lecco paid her for the murder with cash and drugs.
While Friend avoided the death penalty in exchange for her cooperation with authorities, U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr., said it is still a possibility for Lecco. The judge also refused the defendant’s request to move the retrial out of southern West Virginia.
Lecco and Friend were originally tried together in 2007 and convicted on all counts. The jury recommended the death penalty for both, however, Judge Copenhaver later set aside that verdict after it was discovered a juror lied about his own criminal past and failed to disclose that he was the target of a federal child pornography investigation. The case against the juror was later dropped with no charges filed.