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Charges have not been filed in stabbing

April 24, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

BAKERTON, W.VA. - Charges have not been filed in a fatal stabbing that happened in Bakerton Thursday afternoon, and a West Virginia State Police official said Friday that none are likely in the near future.

"We were told by the prosecutor's office to complete our investigation, submit a report and they'll present it to the grand jury," Sgt. D.D. Forman said.

A grand jury is convened three times a year in Charles Town, W.Va., with the most recent session ending this week.

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Robert Scott Derr, 44, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., was inside his estranged wife's home at the intersection of Bakerton Road and Carter Avenue when he was stabbed, police said.

Police questioned Derr's stepson, Nathan McDowell, 18, in connection with the case. McDowell and Derr were the only people inside the home at the time of the stabbing, police said.

McDowell was not taken into custody, Forman said. Forman would not say if the stabbing was in self-defense.

Derr's wife, Florence, had taken out two emergency family protective orders against her husband, one on June 11, 2002, and a second on July 31, 2002. A final 180-day order was issued by a Family Lawmaster on Oct. 28, 2003. It would have expired May 3, records show.

According to computerized records in Jefferson County Magistrate Court, the protective orders meant Derr was not allowed to visit his wife's home or job site. He also was not allowed to have any contact with her, records show.

State troopers and deputies with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department responded to the Bakerton home at 2:38 p.m., after McDowell called 911 and said someone was breaking in, Trooper Richard Shockey said.

Troopers believe Derr broke into the home through a first-floor window, went upstairs and confronted McDowell, Shockey said.

Derr was stabbed more than once and was found at the top of a staircase, Forman said. Derr was placed inside an ambulance, but died there before emergency medical personnel could take him to a hospital, police said.

Investigators have the knife they believe was used in the stabbing, but Forman would not say what kind of knife it is or how many times Derr was stabbed.

Shockey went to the state medical examiner's office in Charleston, W.Va., Friday to attend the autopsy, Forman said. The autopsy report was not available Friday night.

Since October 2001, Derr has faced several misdemeanor charges and one felony charge in Jefferson County, court records show.

Charges of assault on a police officer, public intoxication, resisting arrest and two counts of disorderly conduct were filed June 1, 2002, after a confrontation that took place at Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va., according to records prepared by officer Stephen C. Cox II of the Ranson Police Department.

Derr, who had gone to the hospital to visit his grandmother, yelled at a clerk, prompting the hospital staff to call police, records show.

When Cox arrived, Derr yelled and pointed his finger at the officer. After Cox warned Derr that he could be arrested, Derr "balled his fist up, began to shake about his upper body and took a fighting stance stating, 'That will be the first and last time you do that,'" Cox wrote in court records.

After Cox placed Derr under arrest, Derr swung a fist at the officer, nearly hitting his head and chest, records show.

Six months later, Derr pleaded guilty to the charge of assault on a police officer and was ordered to spend 24 hours in jail. The other charges were dismissed as part of a plea bargain, records show.

On Oct. 23, 2001, Derr was charged with DUI, fleeing while DUI, driving left of center, failure to yield and refusal to be fingerprinted.

Sgt. Samuel Harmon, with the sheriff's department, filed the charges after Derr nearly hit him head-on on Engle Molers Road. Derr refused to pull over, but eventually stopped his Chevrolet Blazer in the driveway of his Carter Avenue home, records show.

Once he got out of the Blazer and was taken into custody, Derr "was combative, argumentative and very profane," Harmon said.

As Harmon drove back toward the sheriff's department, he had to pull over and ask that another officer come help restrain Derr, records show.

Those charges were resolved on Jan. 31, 2002, when Derr pleaded guilty to DUI and failure to yield. He paid a fine and was ordered to spend 48 hours in jail. The other charges were dismissed.

On June 11, 2002, Derr was charged with second-offense DUI and no proof of insurance. The DUI charge later was reduced to first-offense DUI and Derr spent 24 hours in jail, records show. The charge regarding insurance was dismissed.

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