RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – On Tuesday, Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller held a press conference as a task force begins rounding up individuals who have failed to appear on felony charges.
Before COVID hit, Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller found that there were around 75 capias warrants out there on various cases which means those individuals charged with felonies had failed to appear after making bond.
Upon further investigation, it became apparent that 15 of those people had been arrested elsewhere or even some had died, which is why the total went down to 50.
To bring all of these people to court, a task force got together starting with the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, West Virginia State Police, Beckley Police and the U.S. Marshals Service to begin rounding the people with warrants up.
“These are all people that know they have to be in court,” Keller said. “They’ve appeared in court. The judge has set a bond, and they’ve been allowed to stay free pending court disposition, and they’ve been appointed lawyers and instead of appearing when they had to and contact their lawyers they have chosen to disappear.”
Keller believes the reason there were so many this time could be because of confusion with courts being closed but says regardless, she has to get wanted people with felony charges off of the streets.
The crimes in this group do not include murder or sexual assault but range from robbery to malicious wounding to child abuse and drug charges.
United States Marshal with the Southern District of West Virginia Michael Baylous says what they call the Cops United Felony Fugitive Enforcement Division is what helps when working with multiple agencies and jurisdictions across the state and nation.
“So what it allows the Marshals to do is to give special deputization to local and state officers, so they can go out and work with Deputy United States Marshals, and they can go across boundaries or jurisdictions to affect arrests,” Baylous said.
As they have already arrested 15 in one day, now those that they continue to arrest will be charged with an extra felony on their record, so Keller says this shows not only the importance of coming to court when asked but also of the power of agencies working together.
“One of the things that we do understand is that each one of these cases represent a victim, and we want to ensure that their cases are heard, and they receive the justice that they deserve in these cases, so we work very hard not only to investigate these cases but to bring people to the court, so that they can get the penalties that they deserve in these cases,” Beckley Police Chief Lonnie Christian said.
The Mercer County, Putnam County, Roane County, Kanawha County and Jackson County Sheriffs’ Offices, Princeton Police, and State Parole are all part of the team as well.