DATELINE MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. (UPI) October 10, 1989 TIME 1546pd CYCLE bc A convicted murder

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DATELINE: MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. (UPI) October 10, 1989 TIME: 15:46pd CYCLE: bc A convicted murderer serving a life sentence in the West Virginia Penitentiary charged in a lawsuit that the state is denying him the right to practice his religion Satanism. Kenneth Chance, of Bel Air, Md., said other types of religion are encouraged at the prison and he is suffering mental anguish because the warden will not allow him to practice Satanism. Chance filed suit recently in Marshall County Circuit Court against Warden Carl Legursky and Corrections Commissioner Ronald Gregory. The suit asks for punitive damages of $50,000 and compensatory damages of $25,000. Assistant Attorney General Rita Stuart said Tuesday that among Chance's demands are a black hooded robe, candles, a chalice and a darkened room where guards would be prohibited from peeking. "It is one man's choice and he can believe whatever he wants," Stuart said. "The outer trappings and the way he chooses to practice what he believes may not be allowed if there is a risk to the institution. "They sound real innocent at first blush, but if you look at them through the eyes of a correctional officer it takes on a different meaning." Circuit Judge Steven Narick continued the case until Oct. 6 to allow time for Legursky and Gregory to respond to the charges because Chance's original complaint was brought against the men who held those positions under the previous administration. Chance is serving a life plus 30 years sentence, meaning he has no chance of parole, for the 1983 robbery and murder of Wayne Erdman, a 22-year-old forestry student at West Virginia University. Prosecutors said Chance and a co-defendant, Edward Watkins, flagged down Erdman in Coopers Rock State Forest on the pretext that they were having engine trouble with a van. Watkins pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 5 to 18 years after agreeing to testify against Chance. Corrections Commissioner Ron Gregory said the administration has tried to accomodate Chance and legal complaints such as his are common. "Listen, I've seen where they have lawsuits for wanting pizza for communion," Gregory said Tuesday. "Where does it end?"


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