Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

July 4, 2013

Fourth person charged in slaying

GREENUP — A fourth person has been charged in the slaying of a Westwood man whose bullet-riddled body was found dumped along a rural roadside in Greenup County in April.

A Greenup County grand jury last week returned an indictment charging Robert James Burton, 40, of Ashland, with two counts of second-degree arson and one count of tampering with physical evidence.

The charges are connected with the murder of Christopher M. Frazier, 29, of Westwood, whom police say was shot to death March 25 in a pool house at a residence on Rockgate Road in Greenup County. The pool house was destroyed by fire two days after the shooting, and authorities believe the blaze was intentionally set.

Second-degree arson is a Class B felony that carries a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years. Evidence-tampering is a Class D felony punishable by one to five years in prison.

Grand jurors also indicted the three suspects who had previously been charged in the slaying. Carlton T. “Todd” Gallman, 36, of Ashland, whom Kentucky State Police say was the trigger man and who confessed to killing Frazier, was charged with murder, third-degree arson, tampering with physical evidence, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and second-degree persistent felony offender.

Aaron W. Gallion, 35, of Ashland, who was allegedly in the pool house when Frazier was shot and helped dispose of the body, was charged with complicity to murder and tampering with physical evidence.

James Eric “Cowboy” McWain, 54, of Westwood, was charged with two counts of second-degree arson and one count of tampering with physical evidence.

Gallman and Gallion both could be sentenced to 20 years to life in prison if they are convicted of murder.

KSP Detective Chris Carter, the lead investigator in the case, testified at a May court hearing that Frazier’s murder stemmed from a robbery plot that was hatched by the victim, but never executed.

The detective said Gallman had told him that several days before the shooting, he and Frazier had sold a couch to two men in Ashland for whom Gallman worked selling drugs and whom he described as major traffickers in narcotics and stolen property. On the way to deliver the couch, Frazier began talking about robbing the men, Carter said. Gallman balked at the plan and even handed him $50 to keep quiet about it, he said.

The two delivered the couch without incident, but later, Frazier started telling people it was Gallman who’d wanted to rob the men, Carter said. The story got back to them, and, at one point, they pulled Gallman aside and threatened to harm his family if he ever tried such a thing.

Gallman said he and Gallion confronted Frazier in the pool house of the Rockgate Road residence and tried to force him to go to the two men and recant his story, Carter said. When he refused, Carter said, Gallman went into the house and came back out with the 9 mm pistol. He pointed the weapon at Frazier while at the same time attempting to place a phone call to an associate of the two men so Frazier could tell him it was him, not Gallman, who’d talked about robbing them.

Carter said Gallman told him that at some point, Frazier stood up and rushed him, grabbing the pistol in the process. Gallman told the detective he panicked and began firing the weapon.

An autopsy performed at the state Medical Examiner’s Office revealed Frazier was shot seven times, Carter said.

Following the shooting, Gallman and Gallion loaded Frazier’s body into a pickup, drove it to Happy Ridge Road and dumped it, Carter said. The following day, Gallman rode a four-wheeler to a pond on a strip mine site on Happy Ridge and threw the pistol into the water, he testified. The weapon was subsequently located by members of the Ashland Fire Department dive team using directions provided by Gallman.

Frazier was reported missing April 8. His body was found April 19 over an embankment along Happy Ridge.

A grand jury indictment is a formal accusation of a crime and does not establish guilt.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

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