BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — A Beckley man faces 65 years in prison after pleading guilty before Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge Robert Burnside on Wednesday, August 16, 2023, to five charges stemming from three separate crimes.
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield told the court defendant Zaphaniah Branham had murdered Cameron Quick and wounded a second victim, Shakeen Atkinson, at the Country Inns and Suites on Harper Road on May 8, 2022.
Hatfield said the murder was the result of a drug deal gone wrong. He said Branham took Percocet to the hotel room, where the two victims demanded to search him.
“Victims in the case had a gun. Mr. Branham had a gun,” said Hatfield. “Ultimately, Mr. Branham discharged his gun, which resulted in the death of Cameron Quick and the malicious wounding of Shakeem Adkinson.”
Atkinson died later in another state, of a drug overdose, said Hatfield. His death was unrelated to the malicious wounding.
Branham told Judge Burnside he agreed with Hatfield’s statement of events in the courtroom.
He pleaded guilty to second degree murder, malicious wounding and possession of a Schedule Two narcotics, with intent to deliver.
When Hatfield read police statements related to a March 2021 charge of strangulation, however, Branham agreed to take a Kennedy plea, which allowed him to plead guilty without admitting guilt.
Hatfield said Branham strangled and struck Melanie Hussein when she showed up for a custody visitation exchange with her child, whom Branham had fathered.
“Beckley City Police met with Ms. Hussein and noted that she had a swollen eye, a large cut on her head that was bleeding, and marks on her neck, where Mister Branham had strangled her,” said Hatfield.
Branham also pleaded guilty to a fifth charge of offense by an inmate, a felony, in a third crime, related to a May 15, 2023, break-in at Southern Regional Jail.