WHEELING, W.Va. -- A former West Virginia sheriff was ordered into federal custody Monday and will spend a year in prison for his role in the 2010 beating of a bank robber after a high-speed chase.
U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey rejected pleas that ex-Jefferson County sheriff Robert Shirley report on his own to a federal facility, saying he was worried about the mental state of a 61-year-old public figure with three decades in law enforcement.
A retired state trooper and three community leaders testified that Shirley has long been an asset to his Eastern Panhandle community and would thrive under third-party supervision on probation. But they also said he hit an emotional low point last fall when his wife filed for divorce and a friend committed suicide.
Defense attorney Kevin Mills said Shirley has since had professional counseling, but Bailey was not swayed.
"You say last fall was his low point," Bailey said. "I'm guessing today is a lower point."
The judge also ordered Shirley to pay $1,854 in restitution to his victim, convicted bank robber Mark Daniel Haines, and to spend 18 months on probation after he is released.
The one-year sentence is less than the 33-month term recommended under federal sentencing guidelines, but Bailey said "any amount of prison time <t40>...<t$> is going to be very difficult for him."
The beating captured on a police vehicle's surveillance video was discussed in court but not shown.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Camilletti said it showed the former sheriff kicking Haines while in the bed of a pickup, then walking around when fellow officers pulled Haines to the ground and stomping on him.
Haines suffered scrapes and bruises on his face and back, a hemorrhage in his right eye, and a broken nose, rib and eye socket, court documents said.
Camilletti pushed for a tougher sentence because Haines was considered a "vulnerable victim" under the law, but the defense countered that he provoked the violence by resisting, kicking and spitting at officers. They also cited a criminal record with more than three dozen offenses in arguing the 42-year-old Haines shouldn't qualify as vulnerable.
Haines, who was clad in orange jumpsuit, is serving prison time in Maryland. He said hearing the debate Monday "made me feel like I was on trial again." Haines also complained he received no apology when Shirley expressed regret to his friends and family.
"I was helpless. My face was broken," Haines said. "I was tased I don't know how many times. And you were the person who could have stopped it."
Haines has filed a lawsuit against Shirley and other officers. It's set to be tried this fall in Martinsburg.