CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — On Tuesday, November 15, 2022, a woman pleaded guilty to making a false statement regarding a firearm that killed a Nicholas County deputy.
Melanie Clodfelter, 41, of Summersville, admitted she purchased the semi-automatic rifle for felon Richie Holcomb. On June 3, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says Holcomb fatally shot Deputy Sheriff Thomas Edward Baker, III. Another officer, Corporal Joshua Ellison, was injured during the incident, according to the DOJ. Law enforcement was originally at the scene in the Birch Area regarding a domestic violence disturbance.
Court records show Clodfelter bought a Radical Firearms, model RF-15, multi-caliber rifle in Nicholas County on Nov. 17, 2021. According to the DOJ, Clodfelter said she lied on a Federal Firearms Transaction Record Form to purchase the firearm. Clodfelter falsely claimed she was the buyer of the gun when she was actually purchasing it for Holcomb, the DOJ says. Clodfelter also said Holcomb gave her money to buy the weapon and that she understood he could not own a firearm due to a previous felony conviction in 2014. Holcomb was convicted in Webster County Court for a felony charge of unlawful wounding.
“It is a crime to certify that you are buying a firearm for yourself when you are purchasing it for someone else, regardless of the circumstances,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. “Straw purchasers illegally put firearms in the wrong hands. In this case, the firearm was given to a dangerous felon and that led to tragic consequences.”
The DOJ says Clodfelter will be sentenced on Feb. 16, 2023, and faces a maximum of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.