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Kidnapping trial begins for W.Va. man

June 23, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Two attorneys each held up a yellow portable car ramp in court Tuesday afternoon, with one arguing it was used to beat Misty Dawn Hyson on July 9, 2002, and the other arguing that such a beating could not possibly have happened.

The statements were given during the first day of a trial for Brandon Green, 22, of Martinsburg, who is charged with kidnapping, malicious wounding, grand larceny, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit malicious wounding and conspiracy to commit grand larceny.

Nearly four hours were spent selecting a jury in Circuit Judge David Sanders' courtroom Tuesday. After a lunch break, Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely and Green's attorney, Kevin Mills, made their opening statements.

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Games-Neely said Hyson, 25, was grabbed from behind by Green and another man, forced to the ground and then kicked and beaten.

"And," she said, pausing to pull a cardboard box off the car ramp, "hit with this."

A bag was placed over Hyson's head and she was forced into the trunk of her Honda Accord, Games-Neely said. The beating happened while Hyson and three other people were underneath a wooden deck in Green's backyard, having just smoked marijuana, she said.

Three witnesses testified that they saw Hyson escape from the trunk on Interstate 70 near Clear Spring.

During his opening statement, Mills picked up the car ramp and slammed it onto a banister in front of the jury box.

"This car ramp is the embodiment of reasonable doubt," he said. Had Hyson been hit in the head with the ramp as she claims, jurors would be hearing a first-degree murder case, Mills said. The metal ramp is part of a pair used to elevate a car's wheels off the ground.

Each witness' version of what happened has changed over time, with Hyson first claiming she was hit with a tricycle, Mills said. Other weapons mentioned by witnesses included a tire iron and a tire jack, he added.

"It's a tangled web of deceit," Mills said.

One witness has said the group went to Valley Mall to buy CDs while Hyson was still in the trunk, Mills said.

"It just defies belief, ladies and gentleman, and that's just the tip of the iceberg," Mills said.

He said the truth is that Hyson, who has "quite a temper," pulled a knife out while at Green's home. Green grabbed her arm and she fell to the ground, when Green did kick her, Mills said.

At that time, Mills alleged to jurors, Green's girlfriend, Amber Maize Crummitt, 22, and Daniel "Skinny" Herbert, 19, left in Hyson's car without Green. He said Crummitt and Herbert want Green to serve a life sentence in their place.

Last August, Crummitt pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated robbery, one count of grand larceny and one count of conspiracy to commit grand larceny. As part of the plea bargain, she agreed to testify against Green and was ordered to serve 15 years in prison on the robbery charge. Prison sentences for the other two charges were to be served concurrently.

The case against Herbert, who turned 18 the day after the offense, was transferred from juvenile to adult status. He also is serving time in prison, Games-Neely said. The exact terms of his plea agreement could not be determined.

Because kidnapping is a capital offense, if Green is convicted he could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.

After listening to opening statements, jurors were shuttled by bailiffs' cars to Green's home. Green lived with his family in a home on Lariat Drive, off W.Va. 9 east of Martinsburg.

There they milled around the back yard and the wooden deck, taking notes. Several neighbors watched as the parade of bailiffs' cars and police cruisers parked outside Green's home.

The only witnesses to testify were the three people who saw Hyson jump from the trunk, including Brent A. Bowser, of Roaring Spring, Pa.

Bowser said he was heading home at the time, after leaving his Hagerstown job at around 5 p.m. He said Hyson jumped out of the trunk as the car pulled into the median near the Clear Spring exit.

Bowser testified that he turned around at the next exit and talked to Hyson, who was standing by an on-ramp.

"She seemed pretty scared" and asked to be taken to the hospital, Bowser said. He said there were blood streaks on her face, but no obvious injuries.

During cross-examination, Mills asked Bowser how many people were in the Honda. Bowser said he did not remember.

Bowser was then given a copy of a statement he gave to police on the day of the incident, in which he said he saw two people in the car.

Police allege three people were in the car - Green, Crummitt and Herbert. Green and Crummitt were taken into police custody on July 30, after being found in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Testimony is expected to resume today and the trial could continue into Friday.

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