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Manford murder trial set

March 05, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A man accused of killing his supposed drug supplier in June 2008 and burying the body behind his mobile home in a shallow grave near Falling Waters, W.Va., is scheduled to be tried on charges of murder and grand larceny in October.

Carl Eugene "Gene" Manford, 51, of 230 Kurtis Drive, was arraigned Thursday on the felony charges by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes.

Manford's trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 6.

Defense attorney B. Craig Manford entered not guilty pleas to both counts on behalf of his client, who remains incarcerated at Eastern Regional Jail.

After the proceedings, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Jean Games-Neely said the trial date was the earliest that she and defense attorney B. Craig Manford could find four consecutive days available and guarantee the availability of expert witnesses.

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The defendant told the judge Thursday that he agreed to waive his right to have a speedy trial or to have the proceeding begin before the February term of circuit court in Berkeley County ends in May.

Police investigators have said that James Darrell Tucker, 34, was murdered on June 28, 2008, and that Eugene Manford also stole the victim's vehicle, a white Pontiac G6, when he allegedly committed the crime.

Tucker was reported missing June 29, 2008, after he failed to show up for work the evening of June 28. Authorities exhumed his body July 9 from a wooded area behind a trailer that police have said was rented by Manford.

In other circuit court proceedings Thursday:

o Former Martinsburg criminal defense attorney Steven M. Askin, 60, made his first appearance in court to respond to his direct indictment by a grand jury on 11 misdemeanor counts of practicing law without a license last month.

Appearing before 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh without legal counsel, Askin entered a not guilty plea to the charges.

Games-Neely's chief deputy prosecuting attorney, Christopher Quasebarth, told the judge the state was satisfied with the personal recognizance bond set for the defendant. Askin could be fined up to $1,000 for each misdemeanor count, if convicted. A bench trial was scheduled for May 22.

"If anybody believes that this prosecution is about trying to convict me of the misdemeanor offenses charged against me, I have a bridge over the Hedgesville (W.Va.) beach that I'll offer to sell them," Askin said outside the courtroom after his arraignment.

Askin said he has no intention of opening a law office or practicing law, but wanted his license back for other reasons.

o Former Martinsburg City Councilman Glenville L. Twigg, 63, was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on misdemeanor counts of assault and battery, but the case was remanded to Berkeley County Magistrate Court.

Twigg allegedly struck a woman in the head with a wood club at what was his business at 110 Centre St. in April 2008 and police had charged him with a felony count of malicious wounding.

Games-Neely said she presented the grand jury with evidence of what she believed was a felony offense, but the panel instead returned a two-count misdemeanor indictment.

Twigg appeared in court Thursday with his attorney Paul G. Taylor.

It was not immediately clear what magistrate would be assigned to preside in the case. In a preliminary hearing in August 2008, then-Magistrate Jim Humphrey found probable cause in the case, allowing the state to try Twigg on the malicious wounding charge in circuit court.

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