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Man accused in kidnap-slaying denied bail

October 05, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A Winchester, Va., man charged in the stabbing death of his girlfriend during a two-day police standoff in June was denied bond Monday during a hearing in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

Donald B. Surber, 37, is charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping in the death of Katherine Nicole Sharp, with whom he had an on-and-off relationship, according to Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely.

Surber's court-appointed attorney, Deborah Lawson, argued that bond be set for her client because he has not been indicted and has had no preliminary hearing or psychological examination. Circuit Court Judge Christopher Wilkes denied the request but told Lawson she was free to renew the request later.

Games-Neely said after the hearing that she recalls only one time when bond was set in a first-degree murder case, and that situation was different.

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Lawson also told Wilkes that Surber would like to represent himself during court proceedings.

According to court records, Surber held Sharp hostage in her home at 10 Raider Lane in the Ridgefield subdivision off W.Va. 9 west of Martinsburg on June 14 and 15. 

A warrant charging Surber with murder said Sharp was killed June 14. The 26-hour standoff ended on the afternoon of June 15, court records state.

Surber attempted suicide by cutting his wrists while in the Eastern Regional Jail after his arrest, and he later tried to escape police guards after being treated for his wounds at City Hospital in Martinsburg, according to published reports.

One of two officers guarding Surber shot him once, hitting him in the arm and torso, after Surber lunged for the other officer's gun, police said.

Surber was treated for the gunshot wounds at Winchester (Va.) Medical Center and returned to Berkeley County under heavy guard, police have said.

Security in Wilkes' courtroom was normal during Surber's appearance Monday. The accused appeared in shackles and an orange prison jumpsuit. He sat next to Lawson and remained silent during the hearing.

Preliminary hearings in Berkeley County Magistrate Court on the murder, kidnapping and escape charges are pending, attorneys said.

It was revealed in court Monday that Surber previously was charged with kidnapping a woman he was dating in Winchester. He took her to Richmond, Va., against her will, Lawson said.

Lawson told Wilkes the Virginia case was pleaded down to a misdemeanor. Surber and the victim later reconciled, married and had children together, Lawson said.

She argued that Surber "is not someone who has been in and out of jail." He has family ties in the area, would not be an escape risk and is not likely to commit another crime, she said.

There is no reason to believe he would be a danger to the community, she said. 

Surber was being held in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail in Randolph County, W.Va. Neither Games-Neely nor Lawson would say why he was moved there.

Both said there were "concerns among jail administrators," and Games-Neely said moving Surber was "safer for the defendant and the public."

 

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