Speedy trial questioned in burglary case

Terry Wayne Siford

WOODSTOCK — The burglary-related charges against a Martinsburg, West Virginia, man may have to be dropped and brought back to the court to comply with an interstate speedy trial rule, Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp determined on Wednesday.

Terry Wayne Siford, 41, was indicted in July 2014 on 27 charges related to a string of burglaries and home invasions throughout Shenandoah County. Siford was arrested in Pennsylvania in February 2014 on similar charges in that state, and was held on a $250,000 bond as he awaited trial.

He was tried and found guilty in June 2016 of 40 charges stemming from 15 burglaries. The Shenandoah County charges remained pending during that time.

Siford was serving his sentence in Pennsylvania when he was extradited to Virginia and arrested on the Shenandoah County Circuit Court indictments under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, which allows for extradition of sentenced prisoners to other states for unrelated trials.

According to federal law, a trial must begin within 120 days after the prisoner arrives in the state he was extradited to. If the charges Siford was extradited for are not tried within that time period, the law requires that they be dismissed with prejudice, meaning that the prosecution would not be able to try Siford again on those charges. However, if the prosecution drops the charges before that date, the judge can dismiss without prejudice, and the charges can be brought back to the court.

The court must begin to try his case by Nov. 13, Hupp determined on Wednesday after hearing argument from Siford’s attorney in the case, Allison Neal, and from Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kristen Zalenski.

The attorneys also argued about setting a jury trial for all of the charges. Zalenski noted that it would be judicially efficient for there to be one trial, that the crimes show a “common scheme or plan,” and that many of the cases share evidence from the same out-of-state witnesses. Neal argued that trying that many cases at once would be unfairly prejudicial against her client. She said not all of the cases share the same evidence and that it should not be admissible in the same trial.

Hupp wanted time to determine if they could all be tried at once, and set a tentative week-long jury trial to begin on Nov. 8, noting that many cases set for that time period would need to rescheduled to accommodate should they formally set a trial for then.

Defense motions to suppress evidence in this case would also need to be heard before that, and Hupp expressed concerns about how realistic it would be to get the out of state witnesses necessary subpoenaed in time. Neal said the basis for the defense’s argument over evidence would be that the traffic stop and search in Pennsylvania was illegal, and the search warrant gained for Siford’s West Virginia property was not properly obtained.

Hupp required Neal to file those motions by Sept. 25, and set a hearing on Sept. 28 in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to determine how to best proceed with trying the case.