MARTINSBURG – A federal judge has denied a request by Sheriff Robert “Bobby” Shirley that the prosecution spell out its strategy, as well as a number of requests to see prosecutor’s evidence earlier than is customary.
Judge John Preston Bailey, who is presiding over the case, did, however, allow Shirley’s lawyers to obtain access to the statements he made to FBI investigators.
Shirley is under indictment for allegedly participating in the beating of Mark Daniel Haines, a then-suspected bank robber who has since been convicted, and then allegedly trying to cover it up by falsifying a use of force report.
Haines has also filed a civil suit against the sheriff and several other law enforcement officers.
In a motion filed last week, Shirley’s legal team – Martinsburg attorneys Kevin Mills and Shawn McDermott – argued that prosecutors should be required to file a “bill of particulars” that would more explicitly spell out the charges made against him. “The allegations in both counts of the indictment are insufficient to adequately apprise the Sheriff of the charges against him and to allow him to prepare a defense,” they argued.
Bailey rejected that argument entirely, saying the “indictment in this case sets out the defendant’s participation in the alleged substantive criminal charges with sufficient precision to fully advise the defendant of the charges against him.”
In a second motion, Mills and McDermott argued that Shirley should be able to get an early look at a variety of evidence the prosecution normally turns over to the defense two weeks before the trial date.
This evidence requested included Shirley’s statements made to FBI investigators and prosecutors, grand jury testimony taken from other police officers at the scene, expert witness opinions, and any deals which were offered to Haines or other potential witnesses in return for their testimony.
Bailey granted Shirley the right to see any of the statements he made, but denied Shirley access to expert witness opinions and any deals offered to witnesses in the case, ruling that he saw “no reason to deviate from the time periods that were set out in the local rules.”
Prosecutors will have until Jan. 3 to file a response to the request, at which time Bailey will rule on whether Shirley ought to have early access to other evidence.
If the case is not delayed, Shirley is currently slated to face trial at U.S. District Court in Martinsburg on Jan. 22.