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Case forwarded against attorney accused of arson

A Berkeley County magistrate found probable cause in case against Ashley R. Shreve

July 21, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The state's case against an attorney who is charged with setting a fire at the Martinsburg law firm where she worked in September 2007, and then attempting to set another fire there in April 2008, is bound for circuit court.

Berkeley County Magistrate Sandra L. Miller on Wednesday found probable cause in the state's case against Ashley R. Shreve, 29, after hearing testimony from now retired assistant state fire marshal Ed Robinson, Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Deputy Lt. B.F. Hall and Robert W. Trumble, the director of McNeer, Highland, McMunn & Varner L.C.'s law office at 275 Aikens Center.

Shreve was arrested in May and charged with felony counts of second-degree arson, attempted arson and terrorist threats.

Evidence may be presented to a grand jury in circuit court by the Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney's office.

The fire on Sept. 20, 2007, caused between $5,000 and $10,000, Hall has said.

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Shreve, who was arrested in the Richmond, Va., area in May, was a resident of Spring Mills in Berkeley County when she worked at the law firm, Hall said.

Admitted to the West Virginia State Bar in October 2006, Shreve of Oakland, Md., still was listed on Wednesday as an "active" member on the association's Web-based directory.

Trumble testifed on Wednesday that Shreve left the firm shortly after the April 2008 attempted arson, which caused minimal damage.

Robinson testified that he found three separate fires had been set when he investigated the September 2007 arson, but there was no evidence that an ignitable liquid was used. There was no other source to attribute the fires as accidental, either, Robinson said.

The fire that caused the most damage was in an office for Jamie Monroe, according to Robinson. The other fires were in Shreve's office and in a room adjoining a conference room, Robinson said.

Hall testified that a bomb threat letter sent to Westfield Insurance, which was formerly next door to the law firm, ultimately led police to Shreve.

In the bomb threat mailed to Westfield, the note quoted in court records said, "Bombs are around in the ceilings and on the ground!!! You didn't get the message when I set your neighbor on fire. So now I must threaten you."

In cross-examination by Shreve's attorney, J. Michael Cassell, Hall acknowledge that another individual's fingerprints were found on the envelope upon examination. That individual works for the sheriff's department and handles the mail, Hall said after the hearing.

A DNA sample obtained from the envelope used to send the bomb threat letter to Westfield matched a sample of Shreve's DNA, Hall said.

Trumble, upon questioning by Cassell, acknowledged that the firm had an ADT security services in place, but no video cameras.

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