Woman flees magistrate court in Berkeley County

June 04, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg woman who was wanted on a charge of aggravated robbery walked out the front doors of Magistrate Court Tuesday afternoon, after asking bailiffs who were unaware of the charge if she could get change from her car.

Mitzie S. Skinner, 40, of Marie Lane, was wanted on a felony robbery charge, which stemmed from a purse-snatching that happened more than a year ago. Skinner was not charged in connection with leaving the courthouse.

According to Magistrate Kristy Greer, who arraigned Skinner, Skinner came to the courthouse voluntarily to pay a fine from an unrelated charge.


That fine was for a misdemeanor charge of obtaining money by false pretenses, to which Skinner pleaded guilty last month. As part of a plea bargain, Skinner had to pay $135 in restitution and a $135 fine.

After Skinner handed over the money, a computer check revealed the outstanding robbery warrant. Skinner was asked to stay put, Greer said.

Greer said Skinner seemed nice and cooperative, which is why permission was granted for her to use the pay phone. That phone is inside the courthouse.

After Skinner walked out of the courthouse, officers with the Martinsburg Police Department tracked her down and took her back to Magistrate Court.

There, in Greer's office, Skinner made several phone calls, trying to gather enough money to post bond on $25,000 bail.

Citing an illness, Skinner asked that nothing be written in the newspaper. Asked if she wished to make a statement, Skinner said, "Not guilty."

According to court records, the purse-snatching happened in the Martinsburg Wal-Mart parking lot on March 30, 2002, at around 5 p.m. The victim's purse was in a shopping cart, which was beside her car. As the victim was taking her baby from her car, a woman jumped out of a car window, grabbed the purse, jumped back into the car through the passenger window and left, court records say.

Later that day, a man returned the purse to Martinsburg Mall employees. He told them that two women had given it to him and asked that he turn it over for them. Nothing had been taken from the purse, according to police.

The woman who was robbed, as well as another woman who witnessed the incident, both picked out Skinner from a police photo line-up, court records say.

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