Trial continued in murder-for-hire case

BUCKHANNON – The trial for the Buckhannon man who allegedly hired another man to kill an individual he believed had become romantically involved with his wife was continued Thursday in Upshur County Circuit Court.

The case of Rodolpho “Chino” Villagomez Correa, 33, was scheduled to go to trial Tuesday, but will now take place in April, after 26th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Kurt Hall granted a defense motion for continuance during Thursday’s pretrial conference hearing.

Correa was indicted in September on one felony count of first-degree murder and one felony count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of 29-year-old Joshua Oberg, whose body was discovered in a shallow grave along Bull Run Road in a remote area of Upshur County in July 2012.

West Virginia State Police investigators have testified they believe Correa paid Jessie Lee Heater, 30, of Buckhannon, $5,000 to kill Oberg after Correa learned Oberg had become romantically involved with Correa’s wife. Investigators have also stated they believe Heater gave Robert Eugene Siron III, of Weston, $500 to keep his mouth shut in the days following Oberg’s Jan. 23, 2012, death.

In addition to a motion to continue Correa’s trial, Correa’s attorney, Russell Stobbs, also submitted a motion to appoint co-counsel in the case, which Hall also granted. Stobbs said he needs assistance “due to the nature of the offense and the possible exposure” Correa will face if convicted – life in prison.

“We just received extensive discovery from the state, including many discs of photographs,” Stobbs said.

Jury selection in Correa’s case is set for April 14. He is currently being held without bond in the Central Regional Jail.

Correa’s codefendant, Heater, is set to stand trial Dec. 16, and his pretrial conference is set for 9 a.m. today.

Siron’s case would have proceeded to trial with Heater’s; however, he pleaded guilty to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter and one felony count of conspiracy to conceal a deceased human body Wednesday in Circuit Court. He was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in a state penitentiary and as part of his plea agreement, has agreed to cooperate with the state of West Virginia in the prosecution of Heater and Correa.

Since his arrest, Correa has also faced several federal immigration and firearms charges. He pleaded guilty this summer to a felony charge of being in possession of a weapon by an alien illegally in the U.S., and is awaiting sentencing.

Contact Katie Kuba by email at Follow her on Twitter at IMT_Kuba.