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Murder trial involving lethal heroin overdose set for April 9

Request by defense for bond denied by judge

November 05, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Autumn T. Blaine
Autumn T. Blaine

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The trial for a woman charged with murder after she allegedly sold a lethal dose of heroin to a man who died in March at her home was set for April 9 at her arraignment hearing Monday in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

Autumn T. Blaine, 37, was indicted last month by a grand jury on single counts of felony murder and delivery of heroin.

Blaine, of 176 Phillips Lane, Bunker Hill, W.Va., waived her right to a trial within the current term of circuit court, which ends in February, and defense attorney Chris Barnhart entered a not-guilty plea to the felony charges.

Blaine, who is charged in the overdose death of Paul Dwayne Burcham, 32, also of Bunker Hill, is being held without bond in Eastern Regional Jail, according to court documents.

Prior to scheduling her trial, 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III denied motions presented by defense attorney Kevin D. Mills to set a bond in the murder case and to reinstate bond that was previously revoked in a prior case that still is pending in circuit court. Mills told the court he was retained to represent Blaine, who he said had no felony convictions and agreed to complete in-patient rehabilitation at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center for her drug addiction.

In making his ruling, Silver said Blaine tested positive for morphine less than two weeks after she was arraigned on the previous charges contained in a February 2012 indictment.

Blaine was indicted on single counts of uttering, conspiracy to commit uttering, burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and petit larceny, according to court records. Those charges stem from a reported home invasion-style robbery at 1075 Sam Mason Road in October 2011, according to court documents.

In the murder case, 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 court documents.

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, documents state.

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