by Matt Harvey
Assistant Managing Editor
CLARKSBURG -- It's official: No plea bargain in the case of a man charged with murder in the death of his Texas Roadhouse co-worker.
Tracy Haggerty, 22, of Clarksburg, will go on trial Monday. Haggerty is accused of stabbing to death Joseph F. Cavallier, 31, a father of two from Lost Creek. Cavallier's body was found with more than 60 stab wounds last February in a remote part of southern Harrison County.
At a hearing Friday before Chief Circuit Judge John Lewis Marks Jr., Prosecutor John A. Scott said the offer for a plea to second-degree murder was no longer on the table. Scott offered little explanation for the move during court, and did not comment on the matter after the hearing.
However, Marks, in so many words, said it was the prosecutor's right to change his mind. The judge said case law permitted it in this case.
Attorney Traci M. Cook said she and the other two defense lawyers, H. Keith Skeen and Timothy Miley, had anticipated the possibility all along of the case going to trial. Cook cited "the state's past acts." Cook previously had complained that Scott and his assistants had tried to use ambush tactics to derail their efforts.
The last time Haggerty was in court, Dec. 2, he was given a chance to plead to second-degree murder but pleaded innocent instead. Later during that hearing, Haggerty was said to have had a change of heart and wanted to enter the second-degree murder plea, but was not permitted to do so at that time by Judge Marks.
If a jury convicts Haggerty of first-degree murder, without a recommendation of mercy, he would face life in prison without chance of parole. If a jury convicts Haggerty of first-degree murder, with mercy, he would be eligible for parole after 15 years.
If Haggerty had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and Marks had accepted the plea, Haggerty could have been sentenced to up to 40 years and would have been eligible for parole after 10 years.
Before Friday's hearing, Cavallier's widow, Angel, had said she would prefer Haggerty receive a plea bargain. Afterward, she said she still favored a plea hearing but was now prepared to see the case go to trial. Angel Cavallier's sister, Shirley Cochran, said she hopes the trial "is for the best."
"I guess it will be all right," she said.