Charleston, West Virginia: 17-year-old Gavin Blaine Smith was 16 when he is accused of shooting his family in December 2020.
On Tuesday, June 21, Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Ballard granted the state's request to prosecute Smith as an adult.
Investigators believe that the shooting happened on December 8, 2020.
Days later, on December 13, 2020, after failing to make contact with the family, a family member discovered the bodies of 37-year-old Daniel Dale Long, 39-year-old Risa Mae Saunders, 12-year-old Gage Ripley, and 3-year-old Jameson Long.
Law enforcement was then contacted and called to the scene to investigate.
Smith has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
His girlfriend at the time, Rebecca Lynn Walker, then 17, was charged with accessory after the fact by helping him hide after the murders. She plead guilty in July 2021 and in September 2021, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Prosecutor Don Morris explained the reasoning behind a plea deal with Walker who was originally charged for murder as a juvenile but then charged as an adult for accessory.
"The reason for the state entering this plea agreement, more or less, is that we believe the defendant here was manipulated to a great extent," Morris stated. "But because of the nature of the proceeding, I cannot comment on the other party at this point."
A clear motive for the killings has not been released at this time, though conversations between Smith and Walker are alleged to discuss abuse within the home. Walker expressed a desire to help Smith, but also admitted to a doctor that she did not know how to help.
Smith's case will now be presented to a grand jury.
He remains in custody at the South Central Regional Jail and Correctional Facility.