Cumberland Times-News

Local News

April 23, 2014

Keyser man faces charges in Easter incident

He allegedly extinguished candles and made off-the-wall statements in church

KEYSER, W.Va. — Mineral County Prosecuting Attorney Jay Courrier is faced with deciding whether to charge a Keyser man with disturbing a religious worship.

Merrill Roy Shipman IV, 33, was arrested by Keyser Police on Easter Sunday after he reportedly went around snuffing out candles and making off-the-wall statements during a morning service at Assumption Parish, 34 James St.

Shipman was charged with felony breaking and entering other than a dwelling but additional charges are pending.

Per state code, disturbing a religious worship is a misdemeanor and carries a sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of $25 to $100.

“Since he was charged with a felony, the officers do not charge misdemeanor counts out of the same incident  — that is a procedural rule — so I can charge those in the indictment when it goes to grand jury,” said Courrier.    

“I don’t recall ever prosecuting under this statute; I have prosecuted cases under similar statutes for disturbing governmental processes and schools. When I receive the report, I will analyze it and decide what is appropriate to charge Mr. Shipman with.”

Sgt. John Droppleman of the Keyser detachment of the state police, who was attending the service, and church officials were able to remove Shipman from the church and detain him until Keyser Police arrived at 11:04 a.m.

Courrier said that he had spoken with Sgt. Chris Paitsel of Keyser Police and Droppleman.

Shipman was held in the Poto-mac Highlands Regional Jail in Augusta.


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