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Attorney charged in wife's death appears in court minus lawyer

February 27, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County attorney barred from practicing law in West Virginia since 2005 and accused in the grisly killing of his ex-wife in August 2006 appeared in court Monday for arraignment on an indictment of murder.

But Stephen Randolph Fielder's attorney, B. Craig Manford, was unable to attend because of snowy weather in Chicago, and the hearing was rescheduled for next week.

In jail since September, Fielder, 58, was indicted on one count of first-degree murder last week by a grand jury. Manford's absence was explained by 23rd Judicial Circuit judge David H. Sanders.

Weary and somewhat frail in appearance, Fielder on Monday donned a gray beard for court and his hair was pulled into a ponytail.

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Police have alleged that he stabbed Debra Ann Fielder multiple times after she was last seen alive Aug. 11, 2006. Her dismembered body was placed in suitcases with gym weights he allegedly purchased from the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Martinsburg and discarded in or along Back Creek in western Berkeley County, police have said.

Her unidentifiable body was found Aug. 20 by two people fishing the creek near the bridge at the intersection of Buck Hill Road and Tuscarora Pike.

"I've been contacted by the police and it's better that I don't say anything," Fielder said before he was charged in an interview at his Bunker Hill, W.Va., home at 9280 Winchester Ave.

"Put me down for an official no comment."

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