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Hearing set in W.Va. attorney's murder case

September 20, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Bunker Hill, W.Va., attorney charged Monday in the stabbing death of his ex-wife was allowed to turn himself in because he was not believed to be a flight risk and police had not obtained an arrest warrant until minutes before he was arraigned, officials said Tuesday.

Stephen R. Fielder, 57, of 9280 Winchester Ave., was arraigned by Berkeley County Magistrate Joan V. Bragg on a charge of first-degree murder filed against him by State Police Trooper F.H. Edwards.

Bragg signed the arrest warrant for Fielder while the accused waited outside of the court building off John Street with his attorney, B. Craig Manford, for several minutes, according to court officials.

Fielder's case was assigned to Magistrate Jim Humphrey, who is expected to hold a preliminary hearing Monday at 3:15 p.m., records show. In accordance with state law, Fielder is being held without bond in Eastern Regional Jail.

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"He had not gone anywhere throughout the duration of the investigation," Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said. "In this case, they knew (the warrant) was coming down and showed up for it."

The timing of Fielder's arrest was somewhat dependent upon authorities receiving test results of evidence collected in the case, Games-Neely said.

Debra Ann Fielder's dismembered body was found Aug. 20 inside two suitcases along Back Creek in western Berkeley County, according to court records.

Police obtained a surveillance tape from the Martinsburg Wal-Mart that apparently shows Fielder buying luggage and metal gym weights found with the victim's remains, according to a criminal complaint filed by Edwards.

Two days after learning her identity on Sept. 6, authorities revealed that Fielder was last seen alive Aug. 11.

On Aug. 16, Fielder's automobile insurance provider received a cash payment for the victim's policy, Edwards said.

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