West Virginia Boy, 16, Sentenced to 80 Years for Killing Mother, Sister

West Virginia Boy, 16, Sentenced to 80 Years for Killing Mother, Sister
A West Virginia State Trooper police car in a file photo. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW CUMBERLAND, W.Va.—A West Virginia teenager was sentenced to consecutive 40-year prison terms in the fatal shootings of his mother and sister after a judge rejected the defendant’s pleas for a lesser sentence.

Connor Crowe pleaded guilty last November to second-degree murder after waiving his right to be tried in juvenile court or by a jury. He was 13 in September 2020 when he killed his mother, Melissa Rowland, 39, and his 15-year-old sister, Madison.

Attorneys for Crowe, 16, cited his age as one of the factors in asking for a shorter sentence, but Hancock County Circuit Judge Jason Cuomo gave him the maximum penalty, news outlets reported.

“I want to remind you that your sister was 15 at the time you murdered her,” Cuomo told Crowe. “She was younger than you are right now, and you gave her no consideration, no mitigation for something less than a death sentence.”

“Your sister would have graduated high school, I think about a week or two ago. She’ll never get that opportunity to go to college. She’ll never get to walk down the aisle with her father and get married or have kids of her own. You took that from her. You gave her no opportunity to make something of herself, but you’re asking me to do that for you.”

After the shooting, Crowe ran out of the Weirton home and blamed it on a stranger. Prosecutor Steven Dragisich had said gunshot residue was found on Crowe and there was no evidence anyone had forced their way into the home or fled from it.

“The fact remains, he knew what he was doing was wrong,” Dragisich said Tuesday. “He thought about it beforehand and knew it was wrong. He thought about maybe not doing it, but he did it anyway. And then he thought of a defense. All that shows the danger there and the mitigating factors are very minimal compared to what happened in his state of mind.”

Crowe could be eligible for parole after 15 years. He will remain in the juvenile justice system until his 18th birthday, when he will be transferred to an adult facility.