August 23, 2007

DA explains procedure for two Mountaineers

The Monongalia District Attorney said Wednesday that the case of two WVU football players may go directly to a grand jury, rather than a preliminary hearing, but the instance is unlikely and rare.

"The likelihood, that that might be the way we proceed is rare. On certain occasions, the prosecuting attorney could decide to go to the grand jury, if we chose to present case to the grand jury, before a preliminary hearing. I'm not suggesting which way we decide to handle it. Most often these things take their course. We have enough planned for this grand jury. Sometimes we would want additional time for the officers," said Marsha Ashdown.

One of those "certain occasions" could arise because the Grand Jury is scheduled to meet next in Morgantown on Sept. 6-7, while a preliminary hearing before magistrate Jennifer Wilson in the city for James Thomas and Ellis Lankster is scheduled for Sept. 10.

Thomas and Lankster were charged early Sunday morning by Morgantown Police Dept. Pfc. William Runyan with stealing and transferring a Dell laptop and a 32-inch TV, according to Chief Phil Scott. The victim who owned the laptop and a witness reported that the objects were missing from a residence on University Avenue where the two Mountaineers had been. They identified suspicious behavior on the part Thomas and Lankster, and provided police with the description and license plate of the car in which the two left. The Mountaineers underwent a traffic stop in Evansdale where the computer was in full view. The TV has yet to be recovered.

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