UPDATE: PINEVILLE, WV (LOOTPRESS) – A Hanover man involved in a 2022 assault on Big Branch Mountain was found guilty on Wednesday following a trial in the Circuit Court of Wyoming County.
Sheriff Bradley Ellison of the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office reports that on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, a jury in Wyoming County Circuit Court reached a verdict in the trial of Michael Terry Cline – 37 years old of Hanover, WV – regarding his involvement in the May 7, 2022, assault which took place on Big Branch Mountain.
The trial ran for three days as the jury was presented with evidence from the Wyoming County Prosecutor’s Office as well as the defense. Following the presentation of evidence the jury went into deliberation, ultimately returning a verdict of “guilty” against Cline.
Cline has been found guilty of the crimes of Malicious Assault, Wanton Endangerment, and First-Degree Robbery. The defendant was remanded into custody, and it is reported that a sentencing hearing will be held on an as-of-yet determined date.
“It is through the thorough investigation that was done by Capt. Blankenship with the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Department combined with the work done by the Wyoming County Prosecutor’s Office to prepare and present the case at trial that this verdict was able to be reached,” said Sheriff Ellison.
“I would like to thank Capt. Blankenship and the Wyoming County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for their work in bringing justice for the citizens of Wyoming County.”
Additional LOOTPRESS crime coverage can be found here, while additional LOOTPRESS coverage for the Wyoming County area can be found here.
WYOMING COUNTY, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Two arrests have been made in connection to a Big Branch Mountain assault which occurred on Saturday, May 7, 2022.
Rachael Paynter of Justice and Michael Cline of Hanover have been charged following the attack and robbery of a Wyoming County man after an arranged meeting.
Capt. T Blankenship was dispatched Saturday, May 7, 222 to a Simon, WV residence following a call from an unidentified individual. Here, a man was found bloody, shoeless, and covered in mud in the front seat of a truck.
The vehicle displayed visible bullet holes, with one slug that remained in the radiator recovered and collected as evidence.
The victim stated he had gone to Big Branch Mountain at 6:00am to meet Rachael Gibson (Paynter,) and that, upon arrival, Michael Cline appeared and began assaulting him.
Though initially only able to provide a verbal statement due to his condition, the victim would provide a video statement on 5/17/2022 which would describe the events of the incident in greater detail.
The statement reveals that the impetus behind the meeting with Paynter was the purchase of drugs. Upon arrival, the victim determined that Paynter was the only occupant of the vehicle, which he approached before Cline emerged from the shadows and struck him down.
Cline, who was revealed to be Paynter’s boyfriend, is said to have stomped the victim several times and struck him repeatedly with an ax handle.
The statement asserts that Cline threatened to kill the victim “like he had done to others” if he did not surrender his truck and all of his money. Cline is said to have taken a new pair of white Lugz shoes from the victim, as well as $200 cash, a weedeater, and possibly other items from the back of the victim’s truck.
Cline is then said to have been heard instructing Paynter to assist him in sweeping the scene for evidence, though Paynter is said to have not been heard to speak during the incident.
The victim stated he was able to escape in his truck while the two were sweeping the location, driving and turning at a side road to leave the area. He stated that Cline began firing a weapon at him as he was passing back through, striking the vehicle three times.
Upon escaping the scene, the victim made it to Josh Fork where he was eventually found by Capt. Blankenship. Following the issuing of his initial verbal statement, the victim was transported by EMS for treatment.
Upon inspection of the Big Branch Mountain scene, evidence appeared to corroborate the statement which had been provided. At the scene, Capt. Blankenship discovered pieces of a truck headlight, a driver-side door handle, an ax handle, and a 9mm shell casing.
Blankenship also noted tire tracks and footprints in the mud, along with what appeared to be a freshly cut section of a weeded area. Here, a machete was recovered and obtained as evidence. The scene was photographed for evidence.
A search warrant was issued for Cline’s Hanover residence and was executed at 3:55pm. Here, authorities seized several firearms including a Davis Industries Model D-32 .32 Auto Derringer, a North American Arms .22 caliber revolver, a Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver, and a Mossberg model 85B 20-gauge shotgun.
It was revealed that Cline’s history as a convicted felon prohibited him from the legal possession of firearms. These charges include a Malicious Wounding charge in Wyoming County on 04/01/2008 and an Attempted First-Degree Robbery charge in Mingo County on 08/24/2021. These convictions were both pursuant to plea agreements.
Also seized in the search was a box of 90 .22 caliber long rifle ammunition, a Ziplock bag with assorted 9mm rounds, one .22 caliber round, a box of five 12-gauge 00Buck shotgun shells, a small bag of marijuana, and a bag with four white pills marked G31. Cline was not present at the residence at the time of execution.
Cline was later found sitting on the porch of Paynter’s Glen Fork residence, where he was placed under arrest by Cpl. Christian Hedinger for the previously obtained warrants of Malicious Assault and Wanton Endangerment.
Prior to being transported to the Sheriff’s Department for processing on his warrants, Cline was asked about the Big Branch Mountain incident about which he claimed to be oblivious. The report that Cline appeared to be incoherent and under the influence.
Chief Deputy Don Cook obtained Cline’s cell phone along with written consent for search upon Cline’s transport to the department. Cline’s shoes and clothing were obtained for evidence and comparison with scene footprints. Cline was then transported to Southern Regional Jail
Cpl. Logan Cook then set about locating Paynter with the intent of obtaining any other firearms Cline may have possessed. Paynter was found at a Hanover residence where she turned over a Bearman model CL22L .22 caliber Derringer that had been in a safe, as well as two .40 caliber magazines.
Paynter then went to the residence at Glen Fork where Cline had been arrested and turned over to authorities a SCCY model CPX-1 -mm pistol and a K.B.I. model SMC-918 9mm Makarov pistol with a round stuck in the barrel of the weapon. These weapons were voluntarily turned over to Cpl. Cook by Paynter.
Paynter was ultimately charged with First Degree Robbery, Conspiracy to Commit Felony, and Attempted Murder for her role in the incident.