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Don't seize dwelling of woman whose son died

April 15, 2005

You didn't take my advice, so I'm going to take your house.

That may seem harsh, but when we boil down the legal language, that sounds like what Joshua Henline, an assistant prosecutor in Berkeley County, W.Va., is saying to Frances Yurish.

Yurish, a Martinsburg resident, put up her house as surety so her son Michael could be released from jail following a November 2004 attack on his estranged wife.

On Monday, Yurish broke into his wife's house, held a knife to her throat and was fatally shot by West Virginia State Police troopers.

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On Wednesday, Henline filed two motions to seize the widowed mother's Winchester Avenue home. According to the motion, Henline said he advised the family not to post bond, citing the "dangerous nature" of Michael Yurish.

No doubt that was true, because, as we've seen in many cases over the years, Yurish was upset because his wife planned to divorce him.

But it is also true that, in most cases, a mother wants to believe, against any evidence, that her child is a good person.

What that a misjudgment? Would it have been better for Michael Yurish to remain in jail until his trial?

Of course. But it also seems to us that if the defendant was so dangerous, the prosecution should have argued more vigorously that he be held without bail.

What good can come from moving to take Mrs. Yurish's home now, before her son has even been buried?

If this action is meant to send a message to other relatives who are tempted to post bond in such situations, we doubt it will work.

Just as Michael Yurish's emotions overwhelmed him, most parents' desire to help a son would probably trump anything a prosecutor could say.

The hard truth is that Mrs. Yurish will have to live with the knowledge that posting that bond led to the chain of events that ended in her son's death.

That's punishment enough. Henline should drop his motions and allow this woman and her family to grieve in private.

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