Man who brutally beat WWII vet sentenced to 50 years

Joshua Short, 35, of Bluewell was brought Monday before Circuit Court Judge Derek Swope for sentencing.

A West Virginia man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after a horrific home invasion in Mercer County, where an elderly veteran was brutally beaten.

The judge in the case told 35-year-old Joshua Short during sentencing:  “I’m going to take away as much of your life as I can so you can never do this again…I’m searching for a word that describes what you’ve done. The word that comes to mind is despicable.”

In September, Short pleaded guilty to two charges of robbery first degree, a felony carrying a sentence of up to 25 years in prison.

Short and his accomplice “forced their way” into 89-year-old Richard Holcomb ‘s Bluefield home on Oct. 16, 2014.

“They went through my house, stole money, a .38 automatic, and my wife’s jewelry box. On their way out, I thought they would shoot me,” Holcomb said. His attackers were armed with a .22-caliber pistol. Holcomb added, “they must have thought I was dead.”

Now 90 years old, the World War II Navy vet –who served both in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans–is still suffering from the injuries. He had 12 to 15 broken ribs when it was all over.

“He hit me in the kidney as hard as he could, and knocked me over and kicked me in the ribs,” Holcomb recalled. He managed to reach his kitchen, pull himself up on a stool, and call 911.

Short and the other man got away with $150, the gun, pills and other property. The other suspect from the home invasion is currently in a Virginia jail, according to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

The same month of the home invasion, Short robbed a convenience store and deli in Brushfork. He faces a similar robbery charge in Virginia. The judge recommended that he not receive parole, and that any sentence he receives in Virginia run consecutively with the one in West Virginia.

Short was described in court as a man with a “history of mayhem and disregard for the law.” His attorneys said their client had “a very troubled childhood” as well as a drug problem.

Holcomb’s eldest granddaughter read a statement in court, addressing Short directly: “Joshua Zechariah Short, what I see is a weak, spineless coward who preys on the elderly.”

Short was looking away while she read.  “And if you don’t mind, you could look at me,” she added.


  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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