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Magistrate drops bigamy charges against W.Va. woman

February 27, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A felony charge of bigamy filed against a woman accused of being married to two men at the same time was dismissed Wednesday because the investigating officer did not have certified copies of the woman's marriage certificates.

Elizabeth Putman, 46, of Martinsburg, married David Dellinger in Shenandoah County, Va., on Feb. 20, 1999, and wed Christopher Bell on Aug. 3, 2000, in Berkeley County, according to photocopies of the marriage certificates included in court records.

Magistrate Carlton DeHaven dismissed the charge after lead investigator Deputy Steve Vigh testified that he only had copies of the marriage records, not originals or certified reproductions. Vigh said he believed Dellinger provided the copies to him.

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DeHaven ruled that photocopies were not sufficient for him to find probable cause to forward the charge for possible grand jury indictment.

However, DeHaven warned Putman that prosecutors could present the case directly to a grand jury if they choose. Putman nodded that she understood.

Since her arrest earlier this month, Putman has been free on $2,500 bail.

In a seven-page handwritten statement included in the case's court file, Putman wrote that her marriage to Dellinger was turbulent from nearly the beginning, and that she believed they were divorced when she married Bell.

Whether Putman is still married to either man could not be confirmed.

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