CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that led to the murder conviction of James Vincent, the former president of a local Pagan Motorcycle Club chapter.

According to the Supreme Court (WVSCA) decision filed Tuesday, Vincent was sentenced to life in prison for the 2018 murder of Luka Grabb as well as conspiracy and malicious assault after he was found guilty in March 2021.

At a party at his home, Vincent shot Grabb four times after finding out that the victim had plans to rob him, according to court documents. Other men kicked Grabb and left him on the side of the road, where he bled to death.

Before his trial, Vincent filed a “Motion in Limine to Exclude Gang Related Evidence” to exclude his affiliation with the Pagans in court, but it was denied in circuit court. Vincent appealed to the WVSCA, claiming that his position in the Pagan Motorcycle Club was used against him in trial when it should not have been.

Details from the murder trial:

In the appeal, Vincent argued that under rule 404(b)—which says that the use of “evidence of a crime, wrong, or other act is not admissible to prove a person’s character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character”—his affiliation with the Pagans should not have been used as evidence. However, the court rules against him, upholding his conviction and sentencing as they stand.

“We find that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in categorizing the evidence of Mr. Vincent’s club affiliation as intrinsic and, accordingly, declining to exclude it under Rule 404(b).” The ruling said that the involving relationship between Grabb (a former member of the Pagans) and Vincent, as well as several other prospecting Pagan members who were involved in the murder, “was necessary to a ‘full presentation’ of the case, [and was] appropriate in order ‘to
complete the story of the crime on trial by proving its immediate context.'”

Although the WVSCA ruled that the evidence was intrinsic, the decision was not unanimous. Chief Justice John A. Hutchison and Justice William R. Wooton dissented in the case. Hutchison called the resolution an “error,” and Wooten said that “there is no indication that the petitioner’s membership in the club had anything to do with the genesis of the killing.”

Four other men were convicted of crimes related to the murder, but only Vincent was convicted of murder in the case.