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Prosecutor wants to toss Jackson County torture case

CHARLESTON, W.Va -- A Jackson County man accused of torturing his wife for more than a decade should have the charges against him dropped, a special prosecutor said Friday, citing a lack of admissible evidence to present at trial.

Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Craig Tatterson filed the motion in Jackson Circuit Court in the case against Peter Lizon, 39.

The case relies heavily on hearsay evidence and only one witness -- a Mason County sheriff's deputy who testified during a grand jury hearing in June, according to the motion.

Police accused Lizon of chaining up his wife, Stephanie, and abusing her for more than a decade at their farm in Leroy. He was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment and three counts of domestic battery.

The case was sparked by comments Stephanie Lizon allegedly made to another woman at an emergency shelter in Parkersburg. Stephanie Lizon has denied all accusations against her husband and testified on his behalf during a preliminary hearing last year.

"The State is faced with a situation where the victim specifically and for a long period of time has denied the allegations against the defendant," according to Tatterson's motion. "The victim never made the allegations to a law enforcement officer."

Tatterson was appointed to the case last month, after Jackson County's prosecutor, Kennad Skeen, recused himself because he had represented the Lizons in unrelated matters as a private attorney. However, Skeen didn't recuse himself until after he had presented the case against Peter Lizon to a grand jury.

Because of that, Michael Hissam, Peter Lizon's attorney, filed a motion earlier this month to have the case dismissed.

Tatterson wrote in Friday's motion, "The State fears that when the prosecutor has a conflict of interest at the beginning and the prosecutor indicts or presents for indictment anyway, the only proper remedy is dismissal of the indictment."

The West Virginia Supreme Court, however, has not ruled on prosecutor disqualifications or if they affect an indictment's validity, the motion states.

Jackson Circuit Judge Thomas Evans will hold a hearing on the motions to dismiss the case Monday morning. Evans previously granted Peter Lizon permission to be present for his daughter's birth, despite a previous order that he have no contact with his wife and 2-year-old son.

On Thursday, Stephanie Lizon gave birth to a daughter, Bozena, which translates to "gift from God," Hissam said. The couple is in good spirits, he said.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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