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Alleged South Hills shooter wants prosecutor off case

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston lawyer charged with attempted murder after a standoff with police in a South Hills neighborhood wants the Kanawha County prosecutor, who lives in the neighborhood, taken off the case.

Mark Bramble, 49, allegedly fired dozens of shots from different guns and shot randomly inside and outside his house in the Sherwood Forest subdivision and at police during a standoff that lasted almost three hours Aug. 12.

On Tuesday, Trent Redman, Bramble's attorney, filed a motion requesting that Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants recuse himself and his office because Plants lives in the same neighborhood as Bramble.

The motion says that Plants, as well as his office, "has far more at stake than his ordinary 'dedication to his duty.' ... [Plants] cannot only be described as a witness in this matter but possibly an alleged victim."

Bramble is charged with attempted murder and wanton endangerment.

Last week, at the request of prosecutors, Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey reinstated a $200,000 bail, overturning a magistrate's decision lowering it.

Magistrate Mike Sisson initially set Bramble's bail at $200,000 cash but, last Thursday, Magistrate Jack Pauley reduced that to $25,000.

Prosecutors filed a motion asking a circuit judge to reconsider the amount, which they said was too low.

Plants said Wednesday afternoon he would know within 24 hours whether he would fight the recusal motion.

 "I'm in the midst of looking up case law to figure out the state's response," he said. "Of course, this is the first time in eight years this type of motion has been filed. It's also the first time a crime has occurred in my neighborhood."

Plants said he lives about 100 yards from Bramble and was home when the standoff occurred.

"It's within a direct line of sight," Plants said about Bramble's house. "I was home and heard shots and law enforcement came to my house and told me to get my kids out of the windows -- and we moved to a safer area of the house."

Plants added that he had already considered recusing himself, but added, "I want to do my job and I want to prosecute this defendant just like any other, but I'm bound by what the law says and am still in the midst of figuring out what the law says and applying that."

If an elected prosecutor is removed from a case, his entire office is as well and a special prosecutor, from another county, is assigned.

Also Wednesday, the Supreme Court suspended Bramble's law license.

Bramble had worked in the Workers' Compensation Division of the state Attorney General's Office, but had turned in a letter of resignation days before the standoff with police. Before that, he worked at the Charleston firm Kesner, Kesner and Bramble.

Only Kanawha Circuit Judges Carrie Webster and Duke Bloom didn't recuse themselves from Bramble's case.  Webster has been assigned the case and will hold a hearing Friday on the bond and recusal motions.

Bramble's attorney wrote in the motion for recusal that Plants not only has "professional pressure to convict, he has a personal stake in keeping his neighborhood safe by keeping [Bramble] out of his neighborhood. Of course, if [Bramble], makes bond he could potentially move back into his house located in the prosecutor's neighborhood."

The motion continues, pointing out Plants' "tough-on-crime attitude" shown by sending an assistant prosecutor to Bramble's arraignment to move for "an unreasonable" bond.

"In this situation the prosecutor's office must believe that the defendant should not receive any mental health evaluation, observation or treatment. Instead, the prosecutor would have this Honorable Court believe that justice is served by [Bramble] going and sitting at the South Central Regional Jail where he cannot receive any mental health care," the motion asking for Plants' recusal states.

Bramble's attorney has said his client is suffering from mental-health issues and should be at a mental-health institution instead of in a jail.

Assistant prosecutor Fred Giggenbach filed the motion to have the bail amount reconsidered. In the motion, Giggenbach said Bramble pointed a rifle at his wife before she was able to escape from the couple's home on the day of the standoff and said there were three children in the house across the street when he opened fire.

In the motion, Giggenbach said Bramble fired 48 rounds from several guns. Bramble's wife told police that he had been agitated for several days before the standoff and was hallucinating before he started shooting Aug. 12. Police said the standoff ended when Bramble shot himself in the head.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.

 


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