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Animal cruelty hearing rescheduled

January 20, 2009

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- An apparent scheduling mix-up by the 23rd Judicial Circuit public defender's office in Martinsburg caused court officials to again reschedule a hearing for a woman who was charged in November with animal cruelty and solicitation of prostitution.

After waiting for several minutes for Breshannon Deveraux's court-appointed attorney to appear for a 9:15 a.m. preliminary hearing, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Saunders told Magistrate W. Randy Smith in court that the public defender corporation's office in a courtroom telephone conversation indicated it didn't have the case on attorney Thomas Stanley's schedule.

Steve Greenbaum, an attorney with the public defender's office sent to fill in for Stanley, arrived at the courtroom at about 9:50 a.m. But by that time, Greenbaum was five minutes late for a 9:45 a.m. hearing in another case, which had been scheduled after the hearing for Deveraux, also in front of Smith.

At 10 a.m., court officials discovered that Deveraux was in a basement-level holding area of the judicial center and not available to meet with Greenbaum in the third-floor courtroom to discuss the situation.

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At 10:15 a.m., Deveraux, after talking with Greenbaum, agreed to have the hearing continued to allow her to speak to Stanley. After waiting an hour, Martinsburg Police Department and Berkeley County Animal Control officers who investigated the cases against Deveraux were released by Saunders.

Deveraux, 33, of Martinsburg, has been incarcerated since Nov. 18, when she was arrested on a misdemeanor count of solicitation of prostitution.

On Nov. 12, police found a pit bull, with open wounds and ribs showing, chained in the attic of the East Burke Street home that has been listed as her address on court records, and subsequently charged her with a felony count of cruelty to animals.

The dog received medical care and has since been adopted, officials said Tuesday.

-- Matthew Umstead

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