ELKINS -– A Mount Olive prisoner who alleges his daughter was murdered is seeking $300 million in a suit he filed against the man who he believes is responsible for her death, the man's stepfather and the man's friend who witnessed the death.
In a federal complaint filed Jan. 9, Ronald Richard Cloud claims Walter Richard Pritts beat, then strangled his 30-year-old daughter, Yolanda Renee Lear, while his friend, John Cheshire, watched.
After beating and strangling Lear on Oct. 29, Pritts dumped her body face down in a ravine in about 10 inches of water where she lay for three days before police officers found her, the suit states.
"My daughter is dead now, leaving behind three small children, being my grand-children," Cloud wrote in his complaint.
Pritts was brought to trial in a Hampshire County Court, but was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder, Cloud alleges.
Because Pritt's stepdad, Donnie See, is either a Hampshire County deputy or former deputy, Cloud believes the jury was handpicked and found Pritts guilty of a lesser sentence.
"Her Death Certificate states Murdered by 'Asphyxia due to Strangulation in the Setting of a Physical Assault' I do not nor will I ever believe that beating deliberately to death a Petite young mother of 3 sons can ever be regarded by an unbiased jury other than in Hampshire County, Romney, WV as involuntary manslaughter when a Licensed Coroner of this Great State of West Virginia corrected his original finding to 'Asphyxia due to Strangulation In The Setting of A Physical Assault,'" the suit states. "That jury was tainted day one."
In addition, Dan James, the attorney who defended Pritts, was Cloud's attorney from May 1995 until 2004 when the attorney failed to present Cloud's habeas appeal to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, according to the complaint.
"This attorney Dan James has kept me in prison since he was hired by Actor Robert Duvall and two friends of mine, James McConnell and Anthony Walls in or about May 1995," Cloud wrote in his suit. "He was made aware by me that this murderer/person had in fact murdered my daughter and I was totally shocked to learn said attorney was defending the very man who had in fact murdered my daughter."
Pritts has abused his ex-wives and girlfriends in the past, but has gotten off on domestic violence charges each time, Cloud claims.
For his daughter's death, Cloud is seeking $300 million and is asking the court appoint a committee to help him "get the truth of my daughters murder."
U.S. District Court case number: 3:09-CV-4
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