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W.Va. robbery charge dismissed

April 13, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A robbery charge against Jason Bryant, 22, of Martinsburg, was dismissed Wednesday when a magistrate said there were "too many inconsistencies" in preliminary hearing testimony.

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Meanwhile, police were still looking for the man's brother, Karon Troy Bryant, 23, also of Martinsburg, who was charged with pointing a handgun at Beverly Henley's head.

Both men were sought after Henley said she was robbed of $7,500 on March 29 at 216 English St., where she was renting a room from Don Stone.

Stone testified that he, Henley and two other people were at the house that night, drinking beer and talking, when the Bryants arrived, left, and came back again.

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Jason Bryant turned himself in on April 3.

Wednesday's preliminary hearing was held to determine if there was probable cause to send the case against Jason Bryant to a grand jury.

Berkeley County Magistrate Harold E. Darlington dismissed the charge after hearing testimony from Henley and Stone.

Henley said she started the day on March 28 with $11,000 in her pocketbook. The money was part of the proceeds from selling a mobile home she and her husband owned, Henley said.

She said she put $7,500 in an envelope to be put aside for savings. In her billfold was the other $3,500, which had dwindled to about $1,000 by the next day, she said.

"I was spending big money. I kept going into it," she testified.

Henley said that when the Bryants returned to the house, Karon Bryant was upset, claiming that he had lost something. Then Jason Bryant grabbed her purse, she said.

"He said, 'I got it now and I'm not giving it back,' and there was a fight between me and him," Henley testified.

She said Karon Bryant pulled out a gun and approached her from behind. "I could feel it in the back of my head. ... My heart almost jumped. ... Whether it was loaded or not, I don't know, but I was scared."

Stone said Karon Bryant had been agitated and was waving the gun and moving from room to room before he pointed it at Henley.

Police said the Bryants' aunt, Renee Pennix, was at the house that night.

When the Bryants came to the house a second time, Karon Bryant said he had lost something, and everyone helped him look for it, Stone testified.

"He demanded his money back, whatever he was looking for," Stone said.

Both witnesses balked at some of the questions asked by defense attorney Homer Speaker.

Stone sharply questioned why Speaker was asking personal questions, particularly about why he was out of work.

Henley objected to being asked about psychological problems and whether she had taken her medication the day of the alleged robbery.

When she was asked specifically if she had taken any illegal drugs that night, Henley offered a "deal."

"I'll answer that on one condition. Will your client say whether he was selling any illegal drugs?" she asked. "Why should I put myself in jeopardy?"

Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory Jones said the defense seemed to be insinuating that money was being spent that night on narcotics. Jones offered to recommend immunity from prosecution for Henley if she was worried about incriminating herself.

The magistrate said he couldn't do that, and testimony continued.

In his concluding remarks, Jones said the testimony suggested that $7,500 was stolen that night and that a gun was used.

Speaker said the question was whether "a robbery was committed or something else was going on."

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