LOVINGSTON — Details from a May stabbing and subsequent burning of a Charlottesville man were revealed at a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
Roger D. Beverly, 34, of Lovingston, is charged with first-degree murder, concealment of a body and petty larceny in connection with the death of Winfred W. Watson, 48. Beverly was arrested near the scene of the crime soon after law enforcement discovered Watson’s body off the side of a trail in the woods May 2.
Law enforcement previously stated the two men were in an argument and physical fight before Watson was killed. It occurred on what witnesses Wednesday described as a well-traveled path connecting the Lovingston Ridge Apartments and the Lovingston Food Lion.
According to testimony from Virginia State Police Special Agent Clay R. Overholt, Watson was walking along the path when he encountered Beverly, who was sitting off to the side drinking at the time.
When Overholt interviewed Beverly on the scene, Beverly said he felt threatened by Watson because of his body language and size. Beverly told Overholt he and Watson had gotten into an altercation after crossing paths and he panicked, not wanting to risk being struck because he’s a hemophiliac and any wound could put him at risk of serious blood loss.
When asked how many times he stabbed Watson, Beverly said, “I don’t know; I panicked,” Overholt recalled.
Overholt testified that when he asked Beverly at the scene what happened after the altercation, Beverly responded by saying, “You see him,” referencing Watson’s body just off the path, which was charred in several spots.
Overholt told defense attorney Brady Nicks he didn’t see any injuries to Beverly at the time.
State police Special Agent Brandon May said he saw Watson’s body lying face down “right at the edge of the path.” State police officers recovered a charred knife near Watson’s body and a cellphone that was badly damaged from underneath him.
In his testimony, May described the fire as being “very local, very small” and only affected the immediate vicinity surrounding Watson. He said there was no evidence of any fire accelerant on the scene.
On the stand Wednesday, Lovingston resident Candice Simpson said she was walking the path home from work at Food Lion that afternoon. As she made her way home, she testified she could see smoke and later saw a man she identified as Beverly standing next to the fire. It wasn’t until she got closer, she said, that she saw a body on fire.
She said she had asked Beverly if that was a body, to which she said he simply replied, “Yeah.” She said she quickly left the scene.
The Nelson County Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene just before 12:47 p.m. May 2 and turned the investigation over to the state police.
Nelson County General District Judge Sam Eggleston certified all of Beverly’s charges to go before a grand jury. The next Nelson grand jury meets March 24. The grand jury will determine if there is sufficient evidence to send the case to trial and does not determine guilt or innocence. Beverly is in custody at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail awaiting further court proceedings.