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Hate crime charge dismissed

January 27, 1998

Hate crime charge dismissed

By AMY WALLAUER

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va.- A hate crime charge against a Virginia man has been dismissed, but a Berkeley County assistant prosecutor said that may not mean the end of the matter.

Stacey Allen Cooper, 31, of 314 West Lane, Winchester, was charged with committing a hate crime and malicious wounding in a Jan. 4 stabbing outside Gables Night Club in Inwood, W.Va.

At a preliminary hearing Monday, District Magistrate Harold E. Darlington dismissed the charges when the victim, Jacob Bates, 21, of Winchester, and West Virginia State Police Trooper E.D. Burnett failed to appear.

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"Trooper Burnett informed me he did not receive notice of the hearing," said Nathan Cochran, assistant prosecutor in Berkeley County.

Cochran said he hadn't talked with Bates, but assumes he didn't receive notice of the proceedings, either.

If authorities wish to pursue the case, they have two options: Present the case to a grand jury in an attempt to get an indictment or reissue an arrest warrant.

Cochran said those possibilities are being considered, and the prosecutor's office will decide which avenue to take.

Cooper turned himself in to authorities about two weeks after the stabbing and was jailed on $5,000 bond. He was to be released Monday night, Cochran said.

Cooper's public defender, Tom Stanley, declined comment after the charges were dismissed. He also discouraged Cooper from making any comments.

According to police, Bates was stabbed eight times in the face, back and wrist while outside the club with his date.

Bates apparently had three verbal confrontations at the Inwood club, police reports said.

While in the restroom, a black man accused Bates, who is white, of making a racial remark. Two more encounters occurred at the bar, according to police reports.

He was attacked outside the club while waiting for friends, according to police reports.

In West Virginia, a person convicted of committing a hate crime could face up to 10 years in prison.

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