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Jefferson County sheriff tenders resignation, county commissioner says

January 11, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Shirley
Shirley

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Jefferson County Sheriff Robert E. “Bobby” Shirley has tendered his resignation, Jefferson County Commissioner Patsy Noland said Friday.

Noland said Shirley dropped off a one-sentence letter of resignation at her home between 5:30 and 6 p.m.

“It says that he resigned as sheriff, effective immediately,” Noland said.

Commissioners have yet to formally discuss Shirley’s resignation letter, Noland said.

Noland and newly elected Commission President Dale Manuel said they were unaware that Shirley  consented Friday to modified terms of release while federal civil rights allegations are pending against him.

Shirley was placed on 24-hour home detention Friday and agreed to take leave of absence from his job, according to his attorney Kevin D. Mills and court orders.

On Monday, Shirley is due to appear before U.S. Magistrate David J. Joel for a change of plea hearing, according to according to his attorney and court orders.

“I cannot comment on the changed circumstances of his release except to acknowledge that recently disclosed new evidence compelled Mr. Shirley to reassess his decision to contest the charges made against him,” Mills said.

Shirley was indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2012 on one count of violating the civil rights of suspect Mark Daniel Haines on Dec. 27, 2010. Shirley is also charged with falsifying records during an investigation of the incident.

Shirley had pleaded not guilty to the charges at his initial court appearance.

In consenting to the modifications of his release Friday, Shirley also agreed to “24-hour home detention/home electronic monitoring” and to turn over his registered firearms to the appropriate agency, according to the order. 

Mills said the modified conditions of Shirley’s release went into effect at 4 p.m., Friday.  At his initial court appearance in June, Shirley was released on a $15,000 personal recognizance bond, but his travel was restricted to the Northern District of West Virginia and he was prohibited from carrying a firearm.

Shirley’s trial had been set for Jan. 22, but Bailey postponed it Tuesday, giving his defense lawyers time to survey potential jurors and decide whether pre-trial publicity justified a change-of-venue request.

Bailey had ruled Shirley’s defense team had good cause to request the delay.

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.

The defense motion to continue the trial came after prosecutors filed public documents with proposed evidence that they said shows Shirley had abused power before while duty and got away with it. 

Mills said in a Jan. 4 interview that the evidence was “ancient” and questioned its admissibility and the impact it would have on being able to keep the trial on schedule. 

In May 2004, Shirley testified in a federal district court hearing in Martinsburg that while he was on duty he shot at a man “20 some years ago” who was with his wife, according to a copy of the transcript of the proceeding that was filed by the government this month.

“I was working one day, and I drove up on them and caught them in the act,” said Shirley, who was then a lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Department.

“I shot at him one time and that was it.”

A federal prosecutor in the 2004 proceeding then asked if he typically shoots people who are sleeping with his wife while he’s on duty.

“Well, I had never been faced with that before, but I did that time,” Shirley responded. “I don’t typically, no.”

Shirley is no longer married to the woman who was involved in the incident.

Shirley had testified that no charges or complaints were filed against him as a result of the shooting and Mills reiterated as much last week. 

Mills said the shooting was “one isolated incident” in Shirley’s 30-year career and doesn’t fairly portray his service to the community. Shirley was re-elected in November’s general election to serve another four-year term as sheriff.

“They want to use this paint him as a bad person,” Mills had said.

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Manuel said Friday that he believes Sheriff’s Department Chief of Staff Jesse W. Jones would be in charge of the Sheriff’s Department given Shirley’s apparent resignation.

To fill the vacancy, Manuel said it is his understanding that the Jefferson County Commission would choose from among three individuals submitted by the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee.

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