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Murray gets new trial based on W.Va. Supreme Court ruling

July 26, 2007|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - A date for a new trial has been set for a man convicted by a jury in 2005 of failing to render aid to a man who was struck while riding his bicycle in Morgan County, W.Va.

The new trial for Brian Daniel Murray, who was convicted of a felony in the death of Justin McAnulty, is scheduled to begin Feb. 19, 2008, in Morgan County Circuit Court. The order was issued by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh.

In a 3-2 ruling, the West Virginia Supreme Court last month overturned Murray's February 2005 conviction in Morgan County Circuit Court. Murray was found guilty of failing to render aid at an accident involving death, a felony, and failing to maintain control of his vehicle, a misdemeanor.

Murray filed an appeal to the Supreme Court in June 2006.

On the night of June 15, 2004, McAnulty, 18, was struck by a car driven by Murray while riding his bicycle on U.S. 522 north of Berkeley Springs, police said. His body was discovered the next morning.

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Murray, now 50, was serving a three-year sentence one year in prison and the balance in home confinement. He was released June 7 on a $50,000 bond.

The June 5 Supreme Court decision to reverse Murray's conviction was based on prosecutor Debra McLaughlin's statements during the trial that Murray did not testify, which constitutes prejudicial error, the ruling states.

According to the decision, "(T)he prosecuting attorney's use of the defendant, when coupled with the other language used, was of such character that the jury would naturally and necessarily take the prosecuting attorney's statements to be a reminder that the defendant did not testify. This is especially true when coupled with the prosecuting attorney's 'failure to accept responsibility' statements ..."

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