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Keep defendants in jail, prosecutor urges

January 27, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A federal prosecutor argued Thursday that witnesses could be endangered if two people charged with being members of an Eastern Panhandle drug ring were allowed to remain out of jail until their trials.

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U.S. District Judge W. Craig Broadwater ordered Kirk Leon Grantham, who was indicted on drug charges by a grand jury last week, held without bond.

Broadwater delayed ruling on whether Casey Michelle Holt should be held until prosecutors give her attorney a copy of a police officer's grand jury testimony and other relevant information that may be contained in his notes.

Holt, 25, of 94-T Apple Way in Inwood, W.Va., is charged with killing Vatressa Maria Miller last summer to maintain a crack cocaine enterprise.

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A third suspect, Andrew Charles "Sway" Jackson, 21, of 728 Winchester Ave. in Martinsburg, made his initial appearance in court Thursday.

Jackson is charged with being the mastermind of the conspiracy and a participant in Miller's death.

Before Holt's detention hearing was postponed, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas O. Mucklow depicted her as a dangerous criminal with a history of violence.

Cpl. Samuel Harmon, a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy and a member of the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, testified that investigators identified Holt as a suspect in the area's drug trade last year and linked her to Miller's death.

Holt admitted when authorities questioned her in September that she played a role in the slaying, along with two men, he said.

Investigators found an ax handle near Miller's body, which was discovered Aug. 10 in a wooded area in the Greystone in the Opequon subdivision.

"We have been told that ax handle was brought to the scene by Miss Holt and was used by Miss Holt to strike Miss Miller," Harmon testified.

Harmon also testified that Holt has a violent criminal record.

In an Aug. 23 incident, Holt broke a window on a police car and assaulted two officers, he testified.

Holt, whose last job was as a bouncer at The Tunnel nightclub, was charged with obstruction and two counts of battering police officers in the incident, Harmon testified. He said Holt shouted obscenities when the officers stopped her vehicle and asked for identification.

"She kicked out at them," he said.

Harmon testified that the officers had to forcibly remove Holt from her car, handcuff her and place her in a police cruiser. Holt continued to struggle and kicked out the rear passenger window of the police car, Harmon said.

Holt's record includes a 1996 conviction for assaulting a police officer in Baltimore and a 1998 obstruction conviction, according to a pre-trial investigation.

Mucklow and Harmon suggested that releasing Holt could pose a threat to witnesses in the case.

"In fact, Vatressa Miller was killed because she was believed to be a witness against these defendants," Mucklow said.

Harmon agreed. He also said he believes Holt might try to leave the area before her trial.

"I feel that somebody facing serious charges of this nature would definitely be a flight risk," he said.

In Grantham's hearing, defense attorney David A. Camilletti tried to persuade Broadwater to allow his client out on bond since he has not been charged in Miller's death. Grantham, 22, of Avery Street in Martinsburg, was charged with three counts of selling crack cocaine and participating in a criminal conspiracy.

"The rest of the body of this indictment seems to be concerned with a greater conspiracy of some magnitude," Camilletti said. "Noticeably, Mr. Grantham is not connected in any way with this greater criminal enterprise of this murder. I think that's very significant under the circumstances."

But Mucklow countered that Camilletti was downplaying the severity of the charges.

"I think Mr. Camilletti has ignored the conspiracy count in this case," he said.

Mucklow pointed out that Grantham failed to appear for a court date in 1996. He said Grantham has no fixed address and "has virtually no significant ties to this community."

Jackson, who is charged with running the crack cocaine ring, appeared in court without a lawyer Thursday.

Mucklow requested that a jail detention hearing be scheduled, but Broadwater did not set a date in order to give Jackson time to meet with his attorney, who will be appointed by the court.

The urgency of a jail hearing was diminished because Jackson was being held on state drug charges in Washington County, the judge said.

A fourth person charged in the case, Keyston J. "D-Man" West, of Charlotte, N.C., is at large.

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