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Testimony on felony cases opens grand jury session

by J.R. Brammer

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- Harrison County grand jurors opened a hefty session Tuesday with police officers offering testimony about the first of more than 100 pending felony cases.

The 16-member panel -- consisting of local residents -- will hear the details of two murders, numerous sexual assaults, multiple aggravated robberies, several third-offense drunken driving charges and a pool of forgery and uttering (bad checks) counts.

Prosecutor John Scott said his office expects to be presenting evidence through Friday.

"We got a lot more done today than I thought we would," Scott said. "But there is a really big caseload."

Neither the suspects nor their attorneys are part of the process.

Twelve jurors must rule in favor of issuing indictments on each count. If that requirement is not met, jurors return what is called a no true bill.

Prosecutors then choose whether to investigate further and present cases at a later date, or to drop the charges.

Indictments will be issued immediately following the session's conclusion.

Circuit Judge Thomas Bedell will set trial dates, bond amounts and discovery schedules Jan. 11-12. Fellow judges John Marks and Jim Matish are expected to assist in the process, given the large docket.

Throughout West Virginia, counties designate different dates to convene a grand jury. Many counties, including Harrison, hold sessions in January, May and September. Other counties, such as Lewis, hold grand jury sessions in March, July and November. Most counties hold three sessions each year.

Prosecutors reserve the right to have the grand jury reassemble for a special session as the need presents itself.

Staff writer J.R. Brammer can be reached at 626-1442 or by e-mail at jbrammer@exponent-telegram.com.

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