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Man accused of killing ex-wife has his trial continued

June 29, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Bunker Hill, W.Va., attorney accused of killing his ex-wife last year and dumping her dismembered body in or along Back Creek in western Berkeley County was granted a continuance of his trial Friday in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

The trial of Stephen R. Fielder, 58, of 9280 Winchester Ave., which was scheduled to begin in late July, was continued to Nov. 6. A pretrial hearing was set for Oct. 26.

Fielder shuffled into court Friday wearing an orange jumpsuit, handcuffs and shackles.

Defense attorney B. Craig Manford said the continuance was needed to provide time to review new evidence and have Fielder examined by a psychiatrist.

Although Manford stressed after the hearing that Fielder had not admitted to the crime, he told Judge David H. Sanders and Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela J. Games-Neely that Fielder recently suffered a series of strokes and might not have been capable of premeditated murder.

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If the psychiatrist finds that to be the case, Manford said he could use the testimony to help support a diminished capacity defense.

Manford said he has to wait for the psychiatrist to return from vacation.

After Fielder is examined by the defense's psychiatrist, the state would need its psychiatrist to do the same, Manford said.

Fielder was charged Sept. 18, 2006, with first-degree murder in the slaying of his ex-wife, Debra Ann Fielder, who was 49 at the time of her death.

Authorities have said Fielder stabbed his ex-wife multiple times after she last was seen alive Aug. 11, 2006, and her dismembered body was placed in several suitcases with gym weights and discarded in or along Back Creek in western Berkeley County.

The luggage was found Aug. 20, 2006, by two people who were fishing in the creek near the intersection of Buck Hill Road and Tuscarora Pike, east of Shanghai, W.Va.

Investigators later viewed a surveillance tape of Fielder buying the luggage Aug. 14, 2006, at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Martinsburg.

Manford said Fielder was being held with the general inmate population at Eastern Regional Jail.

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