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Killer can't convince court he deserves possibility of parole

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The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal filed by a 22-year-old man who admitted beating an elderly Harrison County man to death with a baseball bat during a 2009 robbery.

Circuit Judge James A. Matish had sentenced Nicholas Robey to life in prison without parole for the murder of 80-year-old Clarence Leeson, who he left to die after clubbing him with the bat three times.

Robey argued the judge gave his three co-defendants lighter sentences and claimed Matish ignored the recommendation for mercy that was part of his plea deal.

Court records, however, show Matish based his decision in part on a court-ordered diagnostic evaluation that suggested Robey had showed no remorse, was likely to break the law again and had a personality profile "consistent with an antisocial personality disorder."

"More importantly, the fact that it was the petitioner who actually killed Mr. Leeson weighed heavily in the circuit court's decision to sentence him to life in prison without mercy," the high court wrote. "Indeed, during the sentencing hearing, the circuit court reasoned that you're the one who swung the bat, not once, not twice, but three times."

"Without hesitation, this Court concludes that the petitioner's admitted role in the callous and brutal murder of Mr. Leeson clearly justified a sentence disparate from his co-defendants," the justices said. "The petitioner mercilessly beat his unsuspecting victim with a baseball bat and then locked the doors to the victim's home so that aid could not easily be rendered. Furthermore, the record before the circuit court demonstrated that (Robey) showed little remorse for Mr. Leeson's death and, in fact, bragged to his co-defendants about what he had done."

Leeson's body wasn't discovered for two days. Robey told the court when they left the house, Leeson was still alive.

Robey's co-defendants — his brother, Christopher Robey, Joshuas Morgan, Megan Jones, also known as Megan Titus — will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years of their life sentences.