Judge Moves Trial Of Alleged Murderer
By JEFF Gallatin
Staff Writer



The trial of a Ritchie County man accused of murdering a state Trooper Larry G. Hacker was moved to Wetzel County by order of Circuit Judge Joseph Troisi Friday.

Dennis Ferguson, 68, White Oak, remains in the Ritchie County Jail without bond on a first-degree murder charge pending the outcome of his trial. He is accused of shooting Hacker April 8 as the trooper responded to a neighborhood dispute at Ferguson's home.

Ferguson's attorney Keith White sought the change of venue because of the publicity generated by the shooting. White said he did not think his client would be able to get a fair trial if it was held in Ritchie County.

"It's nothing against the people in Ritchie County," White said. "This is just a very emotional situation."

Hacker lived In Ritchie County and took an active part in community affairs.

Troisi also ordered Ferguson to undergo a psychiatric evaluation prior to the trial. Ritchie County Prosecutor David Hanlon said the evaluation is routine. "You usually get that before a murder trial," he said. 

The court date will be set after Wetzel and Ritchie county officials coordinate their schedules. "The next court dates in Ritchie County are in November, but it will depend on what Wetzel County has available before we can set up a time," Hanlon said.

Troisi will preside over the trial despite the change of venue. The incident began when a neighbor complained Ferguson was blocking the road to his house with a pickup truck.

Hacker and another officer were investigating when Hacker was shot in the chest while peering around a storage shed near the house.