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Trial to begin today in 2001 slaying on W.Va. woman

July 07, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg man charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of a woman more than three years ago appeared in court Tuesday afternoon for a final pretrial hearing, with his jury trial scheduled to begin today.

Miguel Delgado, 36, of Martinsburg, was indicted in February 2002 on one count of murder in the death of Robyn Renee Richardson, 29.

Richardson's nearly nude body was found in a grassy area outside her Moler Avenue apartment complex on June 16, 2001. A state medical examiner determined that she had been stabbed 23 times in the neck and upper body, with four of the wounds severe enough to have caused death, according to the autopsy report.

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A kitchen knife, with the blade bent at a 90-degree angle, was found entangled in her hair, according to police records and a photograph that will be shown to jurors.

Much of the pretrial hearing centered on which photographs taken at the crime scene could be shown to jurors.

About 20 minutes was spent trying to find the transcript of a 2002 court hearing, when Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes ruled which photos could be admitted as evidence.

Using court records and a law clerk's notes, Wilkes reiterated which photos could be used - one that depicts a block of knives found in Richardson's apartment, one that shows bruises on Delgado's arm, and several that depict Richardson's body.

Delgado stood and flipped through the color photographs with his attorneys, making inaudible comments about them.

Also allowed are eight photographs that show Delgado's Chevrolet Blazer.

Delgado was taken into police custody after his girlfriend, Tracey Cardona, called officers with the Martinsburg Police Department on June 19, 2001, and told them that she had taken Delgado's Blazer to Massachusetts.

Cardona said that Delgado came home between 12:30 and 1 a.m. on June 16, 2001, wearing only boxer shorts. He told Cardona he had killed a woman and thrown his clothes into a trash bin. He also told her that if police arrived, she was to tell them that he got home at 10:30 p.m., court records state.

Blood was found inside the Blazer, police have said.

Fifty prospective jurors will be called today for the trial, which is expected to end Friday or next Monday.

Wilkes granted a request by Delgado's attorneys that jurors be taken to the spot where Richardson's body was found.

Delgado, who is being held in Eastern Regional Jail without bail, faces a sentence of life in prison if convicted. If they find him guilty jurors would decide whether to grant Delgado mercy, meaning he would be eligible for a parole hearing after serving 15 years in prison.

Delgado's trial has been continued several times, in part because he has fired previous attorneys, claiming they were inept. He is now being represented by attorneys Robert Barrat and Michael Santa Barbara.

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