Advertisement

Reno decides against seeking death penalty in W.Va. case

September 20, 2000

Reno decides against seeking death penalty in W.Va. case



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Attorney General Janet Reno has decided not to authorize the U.S. Attorney's Office to seek the federal death penalty against three people charged in the 1999 murder of a Berkeley County woman.

"I can confirm we will not be seeking the death penalty," said Fawn Thomas, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

She said she had no details and no documents had yet been filed at the federal courthouse here Tuesday afternoon. The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Thomas O. Mucklow during a conference on the case Monday.

Capital punishment was being considered in the death of Vatressa Maria Miller, 20, of Hedgesville, whose body was found in the Greystone on the Opequon subdivision Aug. 10, 1999. The three defendants are Andrew Charles "Sway" Jackson of Charlotte, N.C., Keyston J. "D-Man" West of Martinsburg and Casey Michelle Holt of Inwood.

Advertisement

Prosecutors allege the three killed Miller because they believed she was a police informant who would provide details about their alleged cocaine dealings.

"In the federal system, there are only a limited number of situations where prosecutors can seek the death penalty," said Holt's attorney Barry Beck.

He said one of those cases is if someone is accused of running a continuing criminal enterprise and someone is killed in furtherance of that criminal enterprise.

The federal death penalty is rarely sought. The decision is weighed by a committee inside the U.S. Justice Department, which makes a recommendation to the attorney general.

If convicted, the defendants could face life in prison without parole, said Keith Wheaton, Jackson's attorney.

"We felt it was not the kind of case that should have warranted it," Wheaton said of the death penalty.

West's attorney Robert Stone could not be reached for comment.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|