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Newell trial postponed

June 09, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

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NewellNewell trial postponed

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The trial for a Martinsburg man charged with murder and kidnapping in the death of his niece has been postponed to give the defense's expert witnesses a chance to review evidence.

Berkeley County Circuit Judge Thomas Steptoe will meet with Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely and lead defense attorney Aaron Amore on June 15 to discuss new trial dates for Michael Newell.

Newell is charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping in the abduction and death of 7-year-old Jessica Newell.

Newell's pretrial hearing was scheduled for late next week to discuss Amore's motion for change of venue and to make sure both sides were on track for the July 6 trial.

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That conference also has been postponed because the defense has not seen some evidence, including carpet and cushion fibers, and hair and blood samples, which were analyzed by the FBI.

"Some of that stuff is going to have to be tested by our forensic experts," Amore said. "The state has had it probably since the end of September in the FBI lab. Five days before the pretrial just isn't enough time to do anything with it."

Amore will receive the evidence Friday, he said. It should take his experts no more than a month to review the blood, hair and fiber samples, he said.

Both sides will get in touch with their expert witnesses to discuss dates they are available so a new trial date can be set during next Monday's meeting with Steptoe.

Jessica Newell was reported missing from the Pikeside Bowl, where she had gone with her parents on Sept. 18, 1997. Her body was found in a wooded area two days later on North Mountain, about 20 miles from the bowling alley.

Michael Newell, 40, of Winchester Pike, was charged in the crime on Sept. 22. He reportedly was the last person seen with Jessica and his alibi - that he was at the Charles Town Races when the crime occurred - was disproved by security videotapes, police have said.

In addition, court documents say Newell's fingerprints were found on a cigarette pack about a mile from where Jessica's body was found.

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