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Hearing delayed for Bunker Hill woman in heroin death case

Autumn T. Blaine 's defense attorney wanted more time to prepare for case

August 15, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Blaine
Blaine

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A preliminary hearing Wednesday for a woman accused of selling a lethal dose of heroin to a man who died after using the drug was rescheduled after her defense attorney asked for more time to prepare for the case. 

Autumn T. Blaine, 37, of 176 Phillips Lane in Bunker Hill, W.Va., is charged with one count of felony murder in the overdose death of Paul Dwayne Burcham, 32, also of Bunker Hill.

Defense attorney Kevin D. Mills, who had filed a motion for a continuance of the hearing before Wednesday’s hearing, said Wednesday afternoon that Blaine’s preliminary hearing was rescheduled for Sept. 27.

Mills also said that he intended to file a motion to modify Blaine’s bond. Blaine currently is being held without bond at Eastern Regional Jail on the felony murder charge. A bond set for Blaine in a separate case that still is pending against her in Berkeley County Circuit Court was revoked May 30, according to court records.

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In his motion for the continuance, Mills said he and a private investigator who was hired for the case needed to have more time to prepare for the proceeding. 

Blaine also separately waived her right to a preliminary hearing within time requirements prior to Wednesday’s hearing.

Presiding Berkeley County Magistrate Sandra L. Miller granted Mills’ motion after the attorney did not appear in court for the 11:30 a.m. hearing.

Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Richard Stephens did not object to the continuance.

Burcham was found slumped over the toilet in the master bedroom of Blaine’s home by authorities on the afternoon of March 29, police have said.

Burcham’s cause of death was determined to be due to “a large amount of morphine (heroin) in the victim’s blood, along with other nonprescribed narcotics,” according to a complaint filed in magistrate court by West Virginia State Police Trooper Z.L. Nine.

Upon finding Burcham in the bathroom, police also found one needle with a bloody tissue and a $20 bill on the sink, along with numerous hypodermic needles and several large spoons, court records stated.

A small amount of heroin was found on a small shelf above the toilet, according to court documents.

Blaine told police she was the only person at her home when Burcham arrived and went straight to the bathroom, according to court documents.

Games-Neely said last week that an individual can be charged with first-degree felony murder in West Virginia if he or she delivers drugs to someone and death results. The individual does not have to actually administer the drugs, Games-Neely said.

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