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Wise grand jury indicts Fields on murder charges

Stephen Igo • Apr 17, 2018 at 11:40 AM

WISE — A Wise County grand jury has handed down a four-count indictment against a Russell County man in the March 31 shooting death of a coworker in St. Paul.

The indictment charges 68-year-old Larry Leon “Snake” Fields of 438 Straight Hollow Road in the Dante community with one count of first-degree premeditated murder, carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison, as well as one count of felony murder by reckless handling of a firearm, carrying a penalty of five to 40 years in prison.

The other counts against Fields include use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and reckless handling of a firearm, with a maximum five year prison sentence.

Fields is accused of shooting Mark Anthony “Tony” Ward at their place of employment, Deer Builders, on 3701 Russell Creek Road in St. Paul. Police reports cite witness statements that the pair engaged in horseplay and had been “aggravating” each other throughout the day of the fatal incident.

Coworkers told authorities the two men “had painted each other’s feet and had been doing things to each other all day. Coworkers stated this was nothing unusual for the two of them to be horsing around and irritating each other.”

As employees were wrapping up work for the day, Fields reportedly told investigators that Ward teased he was going to pour gasoline on his pickup. Fields also reportedly warned Ward that he would shoot him if he did.

The police report notes that Ward went over to the passenger side of Fields’ truck with a can of gas. Fields told investigators he reached inside the driver’s door of his truck, where he kept a .22-caliber revolver, pulled it out, pointed it across the bed of his truck at Ward “and pulled the trigger and it went off.”

Ward was flown by helicopter to a hospital for treatment of a bullet wound to the head. He died two days later.

Fields was initially charged with reckless use of a firearm, aggravated malicious wounding and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He has been held under those charges without bond at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield.

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