The trial for Wheeling attorney Paul J. Harris, accused of felony conspiracy to commit threats in official and political matters, may be delayed, The Exponent Telegram of Clarksburg reported.
The lawyer representing Franklin D. Streets, a private investigator charged jointly in the case for allegedly interfering with a witness in a Harrison County case, has been permitted to withdraw. That development might end up postponing the trial from its current scheduled start time, the week of Oct. 28.
Meanwhile, Harris is asking to send questionnaires to potential jurors about their exposure to pretrial publicity, as well as other matters.
Photo by Matt Harvey of The Exponent Telegram
Defendant Franklin Streets Jr., right, and codefendant Paul Harris, center, listen to Circuit Judge John Lewis Marks Jr. during a hearing Friday in Harrison County (W.Va.) Circuit Court. The attorney for Harris, Robert McCoid, is at left.
Harris was indicted in May on the felony charge, Harrison Prosecutor Joe Shaffer has said. Harris, 50, of Wheeling, also was indicted on the following misdemeanor counts, according to Shaffer: Conspiracy to commit witness intimidation, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and conspiracy to commit obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
Streets, 50, of Barbour County was indicted on two felony charges, according to Shaffer. They are conspiracy to commit threats in official and political matters and threats in official and political matters. streets also was indicted on the following misdemeanors: Conspiracy to commit witness intimidation, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and conspiracy to commit obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
The charges "arise out of the alleged interference with a witness," Shaffer has said. The person is a witness against former Shinnston policeman Kevin B. Junkins Jr. in a felony case that is pending before Circuit Judge John Lewis Marks Jr. Junkins is represented by Harris, and Streets has done investigative work on behalf of Junkins.
Sherman Lambert had been the attorney for Streets but was permitted to withdraw during a hearing Friday before Marks. Lambert said that he only last weekend learned that the state planned to present potential evidence involving a client he currently represents. The client wouldn't agree to Lambert also representing Streets, so Lambert filed a motion to withdraw.
Streets didn't oppose Lambert's request, and neither did Harris and his lawyer, Robert G. McCoid. Assistant Prosecutor Traci Cook and Marks indicated Lambert had acted correctly in bringing the matter to the court's attention.
Streets told the court he hopes to hire a new lawyer within two weeks.
Marks is willing to go forward with the trial the week of Oct. 28. But the judge also said he would postpone the trial should the attorneys believe more time is necessary.
"It seems to me it may be difficult to get this case tried in October," Marks said.
McCoid said that, at least for now, he and Harris are in favor of a joint trial, and Cook said the state would ask that the men be tried together, as well.
Marks indicated he will wait to rule on the juror questionnaires until Streets retains another lawyer, to see that attorney's position on such a request.