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Charleston mayor says special prosecutor could look at Gardner case

By Rachel Molenda, Staff writer

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones called for a second look at malicious wounding charges dropped last week by the Kanawha County prosecutor’s office against the son of a state Supreme Court justice.

“It just doesn’t seem to me that this was a typical fight between a brother and sister,” Jones told the Gazette Tuesday.

Lindsay Gardner was found bleeding in a ditch earlier this month, and told police that her brother, Edward Gardner, had kicked her in the head three times, according to a police report. Kanawha prosecutors later said Lindsay Gardner had recanted her story, and dropped the charges against her brother.

Jones said Tuesday that a special prosecutor could look at the case. He made the suggestion on the MetroNews “Talkline” radio show, following an account by Lisa Pollitt, one of the witnesses in the case.

“That was quite compelling, because reading it in the report or having it told to you is a little bit different than what you hear when you actually, it’s like you’re going up the road with her and then you see it,” Jones said of Pollitt’s story.

The mayor went on to say he is “not condemning [assistant Kanawha County prosecutor] Chuck Miller,” but that “there has been a miscalculation made here.” Miller was the one who made the decision to drop the case against Edward Gardner, who is the son of Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman.

Jones told the Gazette Tuesday that prosecutors are “entitled to their opinion,” but also said “they could not have read our file, because it had not been printed by the time they decided to drop the charges.”

The Gazette obtained the police report outlining the incident last week after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

Miller said last week that the case against Edward Gardner was “certainly not prosecutable” and said no witnesses saw him strike his sister. Miller told the Gazette the investigation was thorough but quick, because Edward Gardner is soon expected to begin medical school.

According to a criminal complaint, written by police and filed in Kanawha Magistrate Court, witnesses said they heard a man screaming and a woman crying before Edward Gardner allegedly began beating his sister alongside the road earlier this month.

Edward Gardner kicked his sister’s head against the pavement three times, police said at the time. When police and paramedics arrived, Lindsay Gardner was bleeding from her head. She was taken to CAMC General Hospital, where she was in serious condition after the incident, police said.

Police Chief Brent Webster told the Gazette Tuesday that he and the police department still stands by their report. Webster, who made similar comments last week, deferred all other questions to Jones.

According to Miller, Lindsay Gardner said after the incident that she tried to strike her brother. Miller said Edward Gardner pushed her out of his face and she fell, hitting her head on the pavement.

A police report said Workman turned Detective M.W. Kinder away when he tried to take photos of Lindsay Gardner’s injuries at the hospital. It wasn’t until Miller spoke with Workman and Lindsay Gardner that police were able to photograph her injuries.

“Once Mr. Miller was contacted he advised us that he had a good relationship with Mrs. Workman and wanted me to come and pick him up and he would go to the hospital and speak to her and try explaining why we needed photos,” the report stated.

Lindsay Gardner told police in a statement taken on Aug. 15, 10 days after the incident, that she and her brother were arguing over the phone about “some French language software.”

The two met at their mother’s house, began to argue again and Lindsay Gardner told police she began attacking her brother. He pushed her back in defense and she fell backward.

Miller told the Gazette that family members sometimes choose not to press charges after an incident. Miller also said physical evidence “didn’t support there was an assault.”

Miller said Edward Gardner was unavailable to be interviewed about the incident.

Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said Tuesday the commission “does not, has not and will not get involved in matters such as that [appointing a special prosecutor to look at the case again]. That’s wholly within the prerogative of the prosecuting attorney’s office.”

“I have absolute confidence in Mr. Miller’s judgment,” Carper to the Gazette Tuesday. “I have no further comment. That’s just not something we get involved in.”

Miller said last week that Kanawha Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants was not involved in the decision to dismiss the charges against Edward Gardner. The case was not among those Plants is prohibited from handling while he faces two misdemeanor domestic-violence-related charges. The commission is already paying for two special prosecuting attorneys, one to handle the domestic violence cases and one to prosecute the cases against Plants. Plants did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

In a separate incident, Edward Gardner was arrested in Nitro last month and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of marijuana after being pulled over when he allegedly nearly hit a parked car while speeding through town. He is scheduled to appear in Kanawha Magistrate Court on those charges Sept. 30.

Reach Rachel Molenda at rachel.molenda@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5102 or follow @rachelmolenda on Twitter.


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