Southwest Virginia man sentenced to 18 years in prison for 2018 murder

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ST. PAUL, Va. (WJHL) - The man found guilty of shooting and killing his coworker in St. Paul, Virginia in March 2018 will serve 18 years in prison.

According to a release from Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp; Larry Leon "Snake" Fields, 69, of Dante, was found guilty in January of felony murder, reckless handling of a firearm and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the death of Anthony Mark Ward, 48, of Castlewood.

Fields was sentenced to 23 years within the custody of the Virginia Department of Corrections with five years suspended. He will serve 18 years in prison, followed by five years of probation.

On March 31, 2018, Fields and Ward were working at a location behind the Dominion Virginia Power Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in St. Paul.

According to Slemp, the entire incident was captured on a security camera at the location.

Evidence showed both men had been joking around that afternoon, while at work. At some point, Fields pulled a loaded .22 revolver from his truck and pointed it five or six feet above Ward's head.

According to the release, Fields claimed the shooting was an accident but admitted he waved the firearm around before pulling the trigger to scare Ward.

Ward was shot in the forehead just above his right eye and died at Bristol Regional Medical Center as a result of injuries.

The Wise County Sheriff's Department investigated the incident with help from the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Dept. of Forensic Science and the St. Paul Police Department.

"This is a tragic case and a senseless act of violence demonstrating an extreme disregard for human life," Slemp said. "We hope that today's sentencing will provide closure and justice for the victim's family."