Trial for man accused in W.Va. girl's slaying is delayed

November 30, 1999|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. ? The trial for a man accused in the slaying of a 14-year-old Gerrardstown, W.Va., girl was rescheduled Friday because independent testing of evidence will not be completed on time.

In a pretrial hearing, Berkeley County Circuit Judge David H. Sanders agreed to delay the proceedings for Roger Dwayne Smith until Dec. 12, but clearly was disappointed the scheduled opening date of Oct. 10 could not be met.

Smith, 25, was indicted in February on one count of felony murder in the death of Miana Stewart on Oct. 13, 2005, according to records. Miana was found bound, gagged and tied to a weightlifting bench in the basement of her home, police have said.

Smith also faces charges of attempted murder and malicious wounding after allegedly attacking Miana's mother, Mary Stewart, with a baseball bat when she arrived home later that day, according to records.


Defense attorney Eric Black said the forensic testing was not done on time because the evidence was not made available by the West Virginia State Police laboratory until July 1. The lab examined the evidence for Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely's case. But Smith has a due process right to have independent testing conducted, which Black said was approved by the court at a cost of about $12,000.

Black and co-counsel Christopher Prezioso were appointed by the court to act as Smith's public defenders.

Though Sanders accepted the continuance, he denied a request Friday to suppress a statement Smith gave to police and a transcript of a conversation the accused had with his mother while in Eastern Regional Jail, where he remains incarcerated.

Games-Neely told Sanders she expected the trial to span three days. Both she and Sanders openly doubted whether the first day of proceedings could be held in one of the new judicial center courtrooms because of the need for a large jury pool of more than 100 people.

Stewart's death attracted a level of media attention that prompted Smith's attorneys to file a motion to change the venue of the trial. Sanders denied the request last week.

The Herald-Mail Articles