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Catlett faces driving violation

October 02, 1997

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Hedgesville, W.Va., man who fled a West Virginia mental hospital prior to a scheduled murder trial was in a Los Angeles County courtroom Wednesday on a traffic charge.

According to a spokeswoman at the Los Angeles County Jail's inmate information line, Banner Cornell Catlett was taken to court for failing to appear in court on a 1994 traffic citation.

Catlett, 21, fled the William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston on Sept. 6. He was there awaiting a Sept. 23 trial date on a charge of murder in the Feb. 4 shooting death of Andrew Mason, a Hedgesville Assembly of God volunteer.

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Catlett was captured in a Panorama City apartment Monday on a tip supplied to the Los Angeles Police Department by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office. An officer with the fugitive unit said Tuesday that Catlett also faces a misdemeanor charge for possession of narcotics, but said that it was not connected with the arrest Monday.

The jail spokeswoman said Catlett is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 14 on the drug charge. She did not know the outcome of that hearing.

Authorities in California will have the option of prosecuting or dismissing the charges against Catlett before West Virginia can begin the extradition process, according to the sheriff's office.

Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said Wednesday she had not yet been in contact with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.

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