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Murder suspect makes first appearance in court

SALEM – Two hours before the funeral of his roommate that he is accused of fatally stabbing, Samuel Lucas Hale had his first appearance in court. In Salem General District Court Tuesday, charges were amended against the 24-year-old to make it first-degree murder, instead of the initial murder charge.

He is being held without bond in the Roanoke County-Salem Jail on a charge of killing Joshua Louis McCoy, 25, in the early morning hours of Jan. 16 where they lived in the GlenMary Apartments on Lewis Avenue in Salem.

Murder defendant Samuel Lucas Hale - photo courtesy Salem Police
Murder defendant Samuel Lucas Hale - photo courtesy Salem Police

Hale, wearing jail orange coveralls, kept his head down throughout most of the five-minute hearing, flanked by attorney Tony Anderson and two Salem Sheriff’s deputies.

Before he was was led back to a holding cell after court proceedings, Hale looked up briefly toward the audience where his parents and a family friend sat, and sobbed back tears. His parents waved.

Judge Jacqueline F. Ward Talevi accepted Anderson as Hale’s attorney for now, and ordered Hale to return on Feb. 2 to say who he wants to defend him. She also set Feb. 16 at 10:30 a.m. for a preliminary hearing date.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Bowers told the judge he did not believe the preliminary hearing would require much time. After court he explained he said that because there are no witnesses, other than the defendant.

“It’s not like the Awful Arthur’s killing, where there were dozens of witnesses,” said Bowers, referring to the last murder trial in Salem, in November.

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