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Davisville arson, murder trial delayed

PARKERSBURG — The trial of a girl accused of setting a fire which killed her adoptive parents in May 2019 has been delayed as a special prosecutor will be named to try the case.

Madison Wine, 18, has been charged with first-degree arson and murder in the deaths of Robert Taylor, 58, and his wife, Charolette, 52, at their Davisville home.

She was originally scheduled to go to trial next week.

A hearing was held this week before Wood County Circuit Judge J.D. Beane where a defense motion was presented asking the court to recuse the office of the Prosecuting Attorney and for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Personnel in Beane’s office said the judge signed the order of disqualification Tuesday morning and they expect a new prosecutor to be named in the case by the Prosecuting Attorneys Institute in Charleston. As a result, the case will not go to trial next week.

Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure said in an email Tuesday the defense made a motion for a special prosecutor, the Wood County Prosecutor’s Office objected and asked to remain on the case.

In the motion by defense attorneys J. Morgan Leach, Beth Lebow and the law firm of Umina Legal PLLC, they said they planned to call former Wood County Sheriff’s Deputy Tasha Hewitt and the Wood County Prosecutor’s Office would have to cross-examine her on testimony that may have changed from the police reports and prior testimony or try to rehabilitate her testimony to ethically prosecute the state’s case against the defendant .

The motion stated Hewitt is “contemplating, or has initiated litigation, against the Wood County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office along with the Wood County Sheriff’s Department and Wood County Commission regarding ‘a Brady violation'” which came to their attention recently.

The Legal Information Insitute’s webpage defined the “Brady Rule” as requiring prosecutors to disclose materially exculpatory evidence in the government’s possession to the defense. A “Brady material” or evidence the prosecutor is required to disclose under this rule includes any evidence favorable to the accused — evidence that goes towards negating a defendant’s guilt, that would reduce a defendant’s potential sentence, or evidence going to the credibility of a witness, the website said.

“The Wood County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will have a conflict of interest with Deputy Hewitt,” the motion stated refering to pending litigation. “… that would impair their ability to act properly in this case and requires this Court to appoint a competent practicing attorney to this case to best serve the public interest.”

Lefebure wrote although the motion refers to Hewitt as a “former deputy,” she is still a deputy with the Wood County Sheriff’s Department.

He is seeking further opinion on the alleged conflict of interest. They want to remain on the case and feel they do not have a conflict, he said.

“Further we have invested over two years into this investigation and want to seek justice for the victims in this,” he wrote. “We are disappointed that we are not able to.”

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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