Walker Appears In Circuit Court; Trial Postponed
Coty Ray Walker, 27, of P.O. Box 59, Bruno, appeared in Circuit Court before the Honorable Judge David W. Hummel Jr. on January 8 at 10 a.m. While he was originally scheduled to appear for a jury trial, Judge Hummel explained that aspects of the case were incomplete administratively. As such, Judge Hummel told the court that instead of a trial, the court would be conducting a “stream of consciousness hearing.”
Walker was previously charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor charges for alleged sexual and assault offenses, and the case was transferred from the Honorable Judge Cramer to Judge Hummel following Cramer rejecting a binding plea agreement between the defense and the state.
In regards to the case, Judge Hummel first questioned the avenue they were taking in securing the child testimony required for the trial. It was said that Judge Cramer had originally ruled that the children testify through the means of closed-circuit video. However, it was confirmed by the state that the necessary people to do this were not contacted. Judge Hummel explained that the IT team that would need to set up the equipment wouldn’t be a problem to contact, but would need time to plan to attend the trial as well as to set up. This was one reason that he had postponed the trial.
Discussion was held on this subject at length, and it was noted that one of Walker’s attorneys – Mr. Sheehan – had previously suggested that Walker could absent himself during the testimony. However, Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Haught said that the state’s concern with Walker leaving the courtroom for the testimony is that the child witnesses would not be able to identify him before the jury. In response, Judge Hummel said that Walker could remain long enough for the children to identify him as the alleged perpetrator and leave before they begin their testimony. He also told the defense that Walker could watch the proceedings through closed-circuit video.
As such, Judge Hummel said that either avenue they take will require set-up from the IT department.
After consulting with his client, Sheehan informed the court that Walker would absent himself during the testimonies. Sheehan also requested that they re-conduct the hearing with phycologist Dr. Freeman as he’d like Judge Hummel to re-think a ruling in regards to the children. It was because of this as well as other factors that they would have to re-conduct the evidentiary hearing. Judge Hummel said that Dr. Freeman would need to be contacted before a date could be set for this hearing.
Judge Hummel then questioned one of the allegations indicted, and wondered if medical records were available in regards to it. Wetzel County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Justin Craft confirmed that there were, and explained that within 36 hours of receiving the call, the child victim was transported to Clarksburg where an examine was conducted by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). Craft also told Judge Hummel that the records could be found in the discovery. Craft then took the time to mention that defense had provided a motion to seal, but the state hadn’t had a chance to review it yet.
Following this, discussion was held on records from Pleasants County regarding an abuse and neglect case that involved the child witness’. It was said that this information needed to be examined by the court. Judge Hummel told both the defense and the state that he would request the records be provided to the court.
Judge Hummel then mentioned the statements the children gave to the Lighthouse Agency, noting that Judge Cramer had ruled them admissible. However, he said he might revisit this. He also said that he would submit a request for any and all information on the Walker case be turned over to him.
Discussion was then held on the manner in which the children would be interviewed, as the defense requested that they obtain some information from them. It was decided that the defense would prepare a list of questions to be submitted to the children’s attorney where he would document their answers and return the list to Judge Hummel, the state, and the defense for review.
Walker is to appear in Wetzel County Circuit Court again on January 23 in order to set a trial date. Following this, he was remanded.