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Smith waives preliminary hearing

October 22, 2005|By CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

Surrounded by uniformed and plainclothes police officers, the man charged in connection with the death of a 14-year-old Gerrardstown, W.Va., girl last week waived his right Friday morning to have a preliminary hearing on charges of felony murder, daytime burglary and malicious wounding.

The decision by Roger Dwayne Smith, 24, of Martinsburg, means his case will be forwarded to Circuit Court for possible grand jury indictment.

"Yes, sir," Smith responded when Magistrate Harry Snow asked him whether he understood he was giving up his right to have the state put on evidence to determine whether enough probable cause existed to forward the case.

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"Yes, sir," he said again when Snow said he would be sent back to Eastern Regional Jail without having a preliminary hearing.

In exchange for Smith waiving the preliminary hearing, Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely agreed to provide Smith's attorneys with a copy of the state's evidence - called discovery - within 15 days and to hand over additional discovery as it becomes available.

Attorneys Eric Black and Christopher Prezioso were appointed by a judge to represent Smith.

While waiting for his hearing to begin, Smith was not placed in the courtroom with other inmates as is usually the case. Instead, he was locked in a holding cell in a dark room in the basement of Berkeley County Magistrate Court.

Smith is charged in the death of Miana Stewart, who was found bound, gagged and tied to a weightlifting bench in the basement of her Gerrardstown home on Oct. 13.

When Stewart's mother, Mary Stewart, returned home, she was beaten with a baseball bat, tied up and taken to the basement. She was able to free herself and run to a neighbor's house for help, police have said.

When police arrived about 15 minutes later, a man, identified as Smith, was seen running from the back of the Stewarts' home. He had blood on his clothes and items that belonged to the Stewart family in his possession, police have said.

Smith agreed to speak to police and told investigators that he went to the house to steal a dirt bike. He said he was surprised when Miana Stewart arrived home from school, police have said.

Previously convicted in Virginia of abduction and attempted rape in a case involving a child, Smith had been charged in Berkeley County with failure to properly register as a sex offender.

Police have said that Miana Stewart was not sexually assaulted.

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