CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Military-style shell casings may be presented as evidence during the trial of a Charleston man accused of a 2010 murder, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
Justices said Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants could use the casings allegedly fired by David Washington Kinney, 33, to kill Jeremy Parsons, 31, on July 4, 2010.
The court overturned a March 8 ruling by Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Carrie Webster to suppress the casings as evidence. Webster did so to sanction prosecutors because they admittedly failed to make the shell casings available to the defense for inspection and possible testing.
Kinney had made many requests for discovery of the evidence since 2010, but was eventually told in January that the casings were lost, according to the ruling.
Just three days before his hearing, prosecutors informed Kinney they had found the casings at the West Virginia State Police Lab.
In March, Webster ruled, "The State committed gross negligence for failing to timely disclose to respondent Kinney the whereabouts and location of the evidence."
It was later revealed the casings had been in State Police possession since 2011, but was mislabeled under Parsons' name, not Kinney's. Prior to that, the evidence had been tested for most of 2010 at labs in England and Texas.
Justices said Tuesday that prosecutors did not intentionally withhold the evidence.
"Through a series of missteps associated with the placement of the victim's name on the file instead of respondent Kinney's, the shell casings were not lost but were merely misfiled," justices said in the order.
The Supreme Court ruled that Kinney be allowed to view the casings immediately. Kinney was indicted on a first-degree murder charge on Oct. 22, 2010. On March 22, 2011, he was released from South Central Regional Jail to home confinement on a $250,000 bond.