Cumberland Times-News

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April 25, 2013

Mineral bank robbery conviction challenged in W.Va. Supreme Court

Attorney argues judge improperly accepted evidence at 2011 trial

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday challenging the conviction of Charles Edward Bruffey, who was convicted of armed robbery for the December 2009 robbery of the M&T Bank in Fort Ashby.

Bruffey was convicted of armed robbery in a jury trial in Mineral County Circuit Court in September 2011. He was later sentenced to 10 to 20 years.

According to the Charleston Gazette, attorney Nicholas T. James, who represents Bruffey, argued that a judge improperly accepted evidence in the case that indicated his client was responsible for robbery of the same bank several months after the December 2009 crime.

Bruffey was a suspect in the second robbery but had not been formally charged with the crime at the time of his trial, James said.

James also said that at the time Bruffey was arrested, he declined to give a statement to the police — something that prosecutors repeatedly brought up during Bruffey’s trial. James argued that was a violation of Bruffey’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The published report stated that Assistant State Attorney General Andy Mendelson said that the prosecutor’s references to Bruffey’s refusal to give a statement was not intended to call attention to Bruffey’s intentional silence, but to lay a foundation for other information that Bruffey gave investigators after they read him his rights.

Mendelson said that after Bruffey had said that he wanted to exercise his right to remain silent, Bruffey told one detective “I’m going to jail for a long time. You’re a nice guy, but I think I should talk to you about this.”

Mendelson said, “This statement was relevant at Bruffey’s trial as a tacit admission of guilt.”

The justices will rule on the case at a later date.

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