State of West Virginia v. Stephen Wesley Hatfield
In 1989, respondent pled guilty to one count of murder in the first degree and two counts of malicious wounding. On July 10, 2012, the District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia granted respondent’s petition for habeas relief and set aside his convictions. Immediately thereafter, the State of West Virginia notified the District Court that it would try respondent for those crimes. Prior to respondent’s 2014 trial, the circuit court, by order entered April 17, 2014, dismissed respondent’s 1988 indictment, with prejudice, on the ground that respondent could not “properly defend his case” due to the passage of time and the death of witnesses favorable to the defense. The circuit court based its decision, in part, on the four-factor test in State v. Sanders, 209 W.Va. 367, 381, 549 S.E.2d 40, 54 (2001). The State now appeals the April 17, 2014, dismissal order and argues that respondent had available to him other favorable witnesses, including forensic psychiatrists, who could have testified on his behalf at trial.