Prosecution drops burglary charges against West Virginia man

Terry Wayne Siford

WOODSTOCK — The prosecution on Monday dropped the charges against a Martinsburg, West Virginia, man accused in multiple Shenandoah County burglaries.

Terry Wayne Siford, 41, was facing 27 burglary-related charges stemming from a string of home invasions from 2013 and 2014. He was arrested in Pennsylvania on similar charges against him in that state, and was tried and convicted on 40 charges in July 2016. He was extradited to Virginia in May to face his charges in Shenandoah County, and a five-day jury trial had been tentatively set to begin on Dec. 11.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kristen Zalenski on Friday filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Siford based on the “facts and circumstances” surrounding the case. At Monday’s hearing, she specifically cited his minimum sentence of 54 years in Pennsylvania  and that he wouldn’t be eligible for parole until he is 91 years old.

She also cited the difficulty in bringing many out-of-state witnesses for the trial, and because Siford will be incarcerated, the victims and society at large will be protected from him.

Siford is appealing his conviction in a Pennsylvania appellate court, a process that has been delayed because Siford has been in the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail facing his charges here. If that conviction is overturned, Zalenski said, she would seek to indict Siford on the Shenandoah County charges again.

Zalenski also said that while she was trying to be prepared for the December trial, she said it was unlikely she would be able to try it then, which would be toward the end of the speedy trial window in the case.

Siford’s attorney Allison Neal objected to the commonwealth’s motion to drop the charges, saying that her client believes that the evidence gathered for his defense would disappear in the time it would take for the prosecution to bring back the charges. Neal also said that Siford believes the prosecution is dropping the charges now as a way to “circumvent his speedy trial rights.”

Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp granted the prosecution’s motion to drop the charges, noting that it would be an unwise use of resources to pursue the charges at this time. He also told Siford that if the prosecution did decide to bring back the charges against him, he would have a strong case for a constitutional speedy trial violation.

After he had been escorted out of the courtroom, Siford told Neal that he would like the judge to hear him on his objection because he felt Neal did not effectively argue it. Hupp denied Siford’s request. Hupp had earlier denied a request by Siford for a new attorney in the case. Hupp said he felt Neal was an effective defense attorney.

Siford was returned to custody as he awaits transport back to Pennsylvania.