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Trial postponed for Waynesboro official, Hagerstown man charged in W.Va. bar fight

March 19, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The trial for a Waynesboro (Pa.) Borough Council member and a Hagerstown man charged in a bar fight that left a man with brain damage last year was postponed Monday until Aug. 14.

Craig Newcomer, 47, who served as borough council president before his arrest in May 2011, was indicted in October on one count of malicious assault and one count of conspiracy.

Co-defendant Benjamin Jason Bean, aka 4th Grade, who provided the court with a Sharpsburg address at his arraignment last fall, was indicted on one count of conspiracy.

Their trial was to begin Tuesday, but presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes agreed to continue the proceeding to allow Bean’s attorney, Thomas L. Stanley, more time to prepare for the case.

Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely and Newcomer’s attorney, Daniel James, did not object to the continuance, but Games-Neely said the trial could not be rescheduled any earlier than August or September due to other trials already scheduled.

In what was to be the defendants’ pretrial hearing Monday, James noted that he filed a motion asking Wilkes to reconsider his decision to deny separate trials for the defendants.

Among other claims, Newcomer asserted that his “exemplary character may be offset by defendant Bean’s lack thereof,” according to Wilkes’ seven-page order denying the defendants’ motion for severance.

Newcomer, who was identified by the name “Guido” in the Avenger Motorcycle Club, is accused of fighting with then-45-year-old Ernest E. Cumbie at the Dirty Dawg Saloon in Martinsburg on Feb. 13, according to court documents. After the fight, Cumbie was flown for treatment of scalp hematoma, multiple facial and skull fractures, frontal lobe contusions and traumatic brain injury, police said in court documents.

Police responded to investigate the alleged fight at the South Queen Street club at 2:25 a.m., according to court records.

Newcomer, a Third Ward councilman, was first elected in 2005.

James said in court Monday that his client hit someone who struck him first and maintained that Newcomer was acting in self-defense.

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