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Lawyer wants VanTol's charges dropped

March 09, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - An attorney representing Nancy VanTol, whose arrest in Shepherdstown more than a year ago led to allegations of excessive force by a police officer, asked Monday in Jefferson County Circuit Court that the case be dismissed.

Attorney David Camilletti told Jefferson County Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. that the case against VanTol should be dismissed because it has been more than a year since VanTol was arrested and no trial has been held.

VanTol was charged in Shepherdstown's municipal court with failure to obey a police officer, interfering with police and defective equipment. Camilletti said when charges are filed in municipal court, a trial must be held within a year.

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To make the case for throwing out the charges against VanTol, Camilletti had to appeal to Steptoe.

Attorney Ralph Lorenzetti, who is acting as a Shepherdstown prosecutor in the case, told Steptoe that the state worked hard to bring the case to trial quickly. Lorenzetti told Steptoe about one continuance in the case and said no one objected to it.

"I've tried to make calls. We tried to push forward with this," said Lorenzetti, adding that those involved in the case also have had to deal with administrative issues "we couldn't control."

Steptoe said he would take Camilletti's request under consideration.

VanTol was arrested Aug. 30, 2002, following a traffic stop. Shepherdstown Police officer Charles Lynch pulled over VanTol on High Street for a burned-out headlight.

Shepherdstown Police Chief Charles Cole said following the arrest that VanTol was charged after she refused to obey instructions from Lynch three times and fled on foot. Lynch caught VanTol after a short distance, Cole said.

VanTol was charged with failure to obey a police officer, interfering with police and defective equipment.

An eyewitness to the traffic stop said VanTol never refused to do anything when she was stopped.

After VanTol got out of her car and started walking toward the Blue Moon Cafe on East High Street, Lynch "took her down aggressively," Luke Collins has said.

Cole concluded in a report after the arrest that Lynch did not use excessive force. Cole based his conclusion partly on the fact that VanTol would not get back into her car after being asked more than once to do so.

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