In October 2010, police arrested Charles Edward Bruffey in connection to a December 2009 robbery of an M&T bank in Fort Ashby.
Bruffey's lawyer, Nicholas T. James, argued that a judge improperly accepted evidence in the case that indicated that his client was responsible for a second bank 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 in Sept. 2011, James said.
In addition, when Bruffey was arrested for the first robbery, he declined to give a statement to the police. Prosecutors repeatedly brought up that refusal during Bruffey's trial, which violated his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, James said.
A jury found Bruffey guilty and a judge later sentenced him to 10 to 20 years in prison. He is awaiting indictment on the second robbery charges.
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 his intentional silence, but to lay the foundation for other information that he gave investigators after they read him his rights.
For instance, after Bruffey said that he wanted to exercise his right to remain silent, he told one detective "I'm going to jail for a long time. You're a nice guy, but I think I should wait to talk to you about this."
"This statement was relevant at Bruffey's trial as a tacit admission of guilt," Mendelson said.
The justices will rule on both cases at a later date.
Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.tay...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.