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W.Va. sheriff's attorneys move to delay trial

Bobby Shirley is accused of violating the rights of Mark Daniel Haines in December 2010

July 17, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Shirley
Shirley

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Attorneys for Jefferson County Sheriff Bobby Shirley have asked for more time to prepare for his federal court trial on civil rights violation and falsifying record charges.

Shirley is accused of violating the rights of Mark Daniel Haines in December 2010 and then falsifying a use-of-force report regarding Haines’ arrest.

In a four-page motion filed Monday, defense attorneys Kevin D. Mills and Shawn R. McDermott asked that Shirley’s trial be rescheduled from Aug. 7 until the spring of 2013.

“Defense counsel is only asking for half the time or more that the Government had to prepare for trial to be able to adequately prepare for a defense,” the attorneys said.

The extra time is needed to complete a “myriad” of interviews with witnesses, including a “multitude of law enforcement officers,” the attorneys said in the motion.

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The government shared four discs of evidence that consisted of 141 pages of Rule 16 discovery, photographs, radio transmission and two videos and Shirley’s attorneys said more time was needed to review and analyze the information.

Some discs were blank and contained no information when they were first shared with Shirley’s defense team, but the attorneys said that error was subsequently corrected.

“The Government has had 18 months to investigate and compile information against the defendant and counsel for the defendant needs additional time to prepare the case for trial to adequately defend himself,” the attorneys said in their motion.

A medical expert and an expert on the use of force also needs to be consulted with for the case, the attorneys said.

The motion also notes that the record falsification charge alleges a violation of a relatively new provision of law, which has been interpreted differently in different circuits of the federal court.

The attorneys also noted that Shirley is “a high-standing, elected, public official,” and that the charges arise out of his actions while serving the public, which voted in the majority for him to serve as Jefferson County sheriff.

“Thus, the public has an interest in the course and outcome of the proceedings and would greatly benefit from Sheriff Shirley having adequate time to prepare his defense to the charges.”

Shirley, a 60-year-old Democrat, is opposed in November by Earl Ballenger, 64, of Millville, W.Va., a retired 24-year veteran of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

Ballenger, who is making his first bid for elected office, was unopposed in the Republican primary. Shirley beat former Sheriff Ed Boober in the Democratic primary in May.

Shirley was released on a personal recognizance bond at the conclusion of his arraignment last month, but his travel was restricted and U.S. Magistrate David J. Joel ruled that the sheriff could not carry a firearm, even while fulfilling his duties.

The charges against Shirley stem from Haines’ arrest in December 2010 after his failed attempt to rob City National Bank in Ranson, W.Va. The indictment returned by a grand jury in Wheeling, W.Va., alleges Shirley kicked Haines and assaulted him and willfully deprived him of his right to be free from use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer.

A federal civil lawsuit filed on Haines’ behalf against Shirley and 14 “unknown police officers” claims the sheriff in particular kicked him in the head repeatedly and also stomped on his face, according to court documents. Officers allegedly threw Haines to the ground and against a cruiser, punched him and shocked him with stun guns.

Shirley’s attorneys have denied the allegations.

The civil lawsuit indicates Haines, who led police on a vehicle chase from Jefferson County into Berkeley County, suffered scrapes and bruises on his face and back, a hemorrhage in his right eye, and a broken nose, rib and eye socket.

Haines was sentenced in May to nearly 19 years in prison and three years of probation after pleading guilty to the Dec. 22, 2010, robbery of a BB&T branch in Martinsburg. Judge John P. Bailey also ordered Haines to repay more than $7,500.

Bailey is presiding in both cases filed against Shirley.

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