Virginia man facing second-degree murder after Maple Acres Road shooting

Feb. 27—PRINCETON — A Virginia man is facing multiple charges including second-degree murder after a gunshot he allegedly fired through a Mercer County home's front door fatally wounded a woman who was standing in front of her home's kitchen window.

John William Aaron Norton, 28, of Pounding Mill, Va., has been charged with felonies including second-degree murder, felon in possession of a firearm and eight counts of wanton endangerment, according to the criminal complaint filed by Detective-Lieutenant S.A. Sommers of the Mercer County Sheriff's Department. He is being held at the Southern Regional Jail on a $200,000 cash-only bond. Norton's arraignment was pending Monday.

The incident began about 9:26 p.m. Feb. 24 when Jessica Smith, a resident of 1986 Maple Acres Road, Princeton called Mercer County 911 and reported that she heard three gunshots near her residences, Sommers said in his criminal complaint.

"She further stated that upon speaking with her neighbor, Robert Day, he advised her that a male was shooting a firearm inside his residence," Sommers stated.

Deputy A.M. Presley was the first to arrive at the home where gunshots were coming from, Sommers said.

"As Deputy Presley was approaching the front door, he announced his presence and immediately heard a gunshot inside," Sommers stated. Presley took cover at the back of the residence as Cpl. D.A. Calloway arrived. They saw the back door open and again announced the presence of law enforcement. The male inside cursed them and fired two more times.

"Multiple Mercer County Sheriff's Department and West Virginia State Police units responded to the residence, securing the perimeter and evacuating neighbors," Sommers said. "The original complainant, Jessica Smith, and her family were in the residence directly across from the residence the male was shooting from; he was identified as John William Aaron Norton."

As Jessica Smith, Roy Smith and their two children were in the process of evacuating their home, Norton "fired two more rounds," Sommers stated. "He fired the rounds through the front door of the residence toward Jessica Smith's residence. One round travelled through the front door, then through the kitchen window of Jessica Smith's residence, as Jessica Smith was standing in front of the window. The round struck her in the chest, causing her death."

Norton was arrested after a standoff which lasted several hours.

Sommers said he conducted a crime scene investigation with Detective-Corporal M.T. Hatfield with the assistance of the West Virginia State Police Crime Scene Response Team.

"We recovered a .40-caliber firearm and eight casings from within the residence John Norton was occupying," Sommers stated. "I spoke with the owner of the residence, Robert Day, who stated that John Norton discharged the firearm three to four times while he was inside the residence with him.

Sommers reviewed Norton's criminal history and found that he was convicted in Virginia on Aug. 17, 2021 for a felony controlled substance offense involving a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance, according to the criminal complaint. Sommers also found that Norton had been served a domestic violence petition in Tazewell County, Va.

In West Virginia, second-degree murder has a possible sentence of 10 to 40 years in prison, according to the State Code. Wanton endangerment has a possible sentence of one to five years in prison, and felon in possession of a firearm has a sentence of up to five years in prison.

— Contact Greg Jordan at

Contact Greg Jordan at