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Defendant must pay for experts at his own trial

August 28, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A judge ruled this week that the state does not have to pay for experts a defense attorney wants to hire for his client, who is charged with driving drunk and causing a wreck that led to the deaths of his two passengers.

Joshua D. Barrett, 20, of Hedgesville, W.Va., is charged with two felony counts of driving under the influence causing death. Police allege that at the time of the Sept. 4, 2001, wreck, Barrett's blood-alcohol level was .114.

The legal limit in West Virginia is .10.

During a brief court hearing before Circuit Judge David Sanders on Monday, Barrett's attorney, Robert Stone, said Barrett could not afford to pay for the examinations.

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Stone said he needs to hire an expert in accident reconstruction. An expert in toxicology already has been hired.

Stone said that although Barrett's family was able to hire him, they cannot pay the additional expense.

Sanders said, however, that Barrett's income is $300 over the level of indigent status.

The case is set for trial in October.

Killed in the single-car wreck were Kyra Lynn Heleine, 19, of Falling Waters, W.Va., and Tristan Aaron Ashby, 21, of Martinsburg.

Both of their bodies were found hanging out of the passenger side of the Ford Explorer, which came to rest on top of a fence.

According to police reports, the driver of the SUV ran off one side of Cherry Run Road. The driver then apparently tried to overcorrect and hit a tree on the other side of the road. Investigators believe the SUV was going faster than 80 mph at the time, according to court records.

Stone has maintained that Barrett was not driving.

Police say the position of the two bodies indicates only Barrett could have been driving. When emergency personnel arrived, Barrett was on the ground about 20 feet from the wrecked SUV, records show.

Although no drugs or alcohol were found in Heleine's body, Ashby's blood-alcohol level at the time of his death was .220, according to an autopsy report.

At the time, Heleine was free on $50,000 bail and scheduled to stand trial on a charge of felony murder. The charges stem from a January 2001 incident in which heroin was injected several times into the arm of a man who later was found dead in the back seat of a car.

Barrett is free on $5,000 bail.

A conviction of a charge of DUI causing death carries a sentence of one to 15 years in prison.

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