On December 6, 2006, a stabbing death took place at 417 Temple Street in Hinton, West Virginia. Three people were involved in an altercation in a home, one of them was stabbed. The two survivors both blamed each other. This set the foundation for a trial that would last nearly two weeks in December 2007.
Lewisburg attorney Tom White, as well as myself, were appointed by the court to represent Mrs. Brown. For over a year, we prepared the case for trial. We knew that it would be difficult for her to get a fair trial in Summers County, West Virginia, so we filed a motion for change of venue. The motion consisted of twenty-six pages of negative and biased media accounts that had already been injected into the minds of potential Summers County jurors. However, the motion was denied and we went to trial on December 11, 2007.
The end result was that Patricia Brown was acquitted of first degree murder, but was found guilty of second degree murder. Of interest to this blog however, is the conduct of the West Virginia State Police Forensics Lab during the investigation of Mrs. Brown and during the trial itself. What most West Virginians do not know is that the State of West Virginia does not have a separate and independent forensics lab to perform the DNA and other testing in criminal cases, as does almost all other states. This has presented serious problems in the past, and it continues to pose a problem. I will detail some of these problems in my next post.