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New trial ordered in bicyclist's death in Morgan County

April 08, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- A new trial date of Sept. 22 was set for Brian Daniel Murray after his no contest plea to a misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter was denied Monday by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh in Morgan County Circuit Court.  

Murray's felony conviction in the traffic death of a bicyclist was overturned by the West Virginia Supreme Court in June 2007. He was serving a three-year sentence: one year in prison and the balance on home confinement. He was released June 7 on a $50,000 bond. 

Groh said after reviewing the case she saw no real acceptance of responsibility on Murray's part, and that the no contest plea did not fit the "loss of life."

Under a no contest plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but offers no defense. 

Murray's attorney, B. Craig Manford, said Groh would have accepted a guilty plea, but Murray would not enter a guilty plea.

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Murray declined to comment on the judge's ruling.  

A Morgan County jury in February 2005 convicted Murray of a felony charge of failure to render aid in the death of Justin McAnulty. Police said McAnulty was struck by a car driven by Murray while riding his bicycle on U.S. 522 north in Morgan County, W.Va., in June 2004. His body was discovered the next morning. 

The Supreme Court based its decision to reverse Murray's conviction on prosecutor Debra McLaughlin's statements during the trial pointing out that Murray did not testify. This constitutes prejudicial error, the ruling states.

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