Boone prosecutor asks judge to decide if state officials in contempt in neglect case (2024)

MADISON, W.Va. (WCHS) — Boone County's prosecuting attorney is asking a judge to determine if West Virginia Governor Jim Justice's office and the state Department of Human Services are in contempt of court in the case of a mother accused of child neglect leading to the death of her teenage daughter.

Prosecuting attorney Dan Holstein said in a newly filed motion that an attorney for DoHS emailed him six documents on June 6 that were titled things that led him to believe they contained statements from Julie Miller and possibly her parents and co-defendants, Jerry and Donna Stone.

The previous day, Judge Stacy Nowicki-Eldridge ordered Justice's office and DoHS to produce their investigative report in Miller's case, along with all statements of witnesses and criminal defendants, to the defense attorneys for Miller, the Stones, and Holstein.

However, according to the motion, they were ordered not to give the prosecutor any statements from Miller or her parents that were obtained without their attorneys present.

"The court made this order at the specific request of the prosecuting attorney for the express purpose of avoiding any taint to the criminal investigation with the DoHS' illegally obtained material," Holstein said in the motion filed late Monday night. "Neither the Office of the Governor nor DoHS made any objection to that provision of the order."

Miller's defense attorneys, Ron Walters, Jr. and Beverly Hall, filed an emergency motion on June 5, the day before a scheduled news conference from Justice's office was to be held to release information from a separate internal investigation into the handling of the case by DoHS and state police. Nowicki-Eldridge ruled the same day that the press conference could be held but limited what could be released from the state.

The attorneys alleged DoHS sent a child protective services investigator to the South Central Regional Jail on June 4 to interview Miller without her attorney present. According to the court filing, a CPS supervisor told the defense attorneys that the investigator was assigned to interrogate Miller at the jail and it was not the first time they had interrogated her.

Miller and her parents are charged with child neglect causing death after Miller's daughter, Kyneddi, 14, was found "emaciated to a skeletal state” on April 17 at a home in Morrisvale.

Justice's chief of staff, Brian Abraham, said earlier claims that the CPS investigator identified herself as an attorney before interviewing Miller at the jail were false. Abraham also said the investigator was sent by the local CPS office without the knowledge of DoHS or Justice's office and called the move "incredibly stupid."

Holstein said he had not opened any of the attached documents emailed to him by DoHS. He said he replied to DoHS's general counsel that the "offending material should have only been provided to defense counsel" and asked that a redacted version be created taking out the "offending material" and submitting the redacted version back to him that was consistent with the judge's order.

Holstein noted in the filing that he had not received a reply to his follow-up email at the time the motion was filed and he had also not received confirmation about the contents of the original email.

Holstein went on to say that he had received "even more concerning" information that Miller's attorney and an attorney for the governor's office had a conversation where the state's attorney said they could not comply with the court's order.

"Said attorney was present for the hearing and lodged no specific objection to the court's order regarding the manner of distribution of the material," Holstein wrote. "To this date, defense counsel has received nothing from either DoHS or the office of the governor."

Holstein asked Nowicki-Eldridge to set a review hearing and give the governor's office and DoHS "an opportunity to fully comply." He also asked the judge to review the items that were emailed to him.

"In the event of non-compliance, the state requests a rule to show cause issue against all appropriate persons as to why they should not be held in contempt, whether criminal or civil as this court may determine is just," Holstein said.

As of Tuesday evening, a hearing had not yet been scheduled.

Eyewitness News has reached out to the governor's office and DoHS for comment but has not received a response.

Boone prosecutor asks judge to decide if state officials in contempt in neglect case (2024)
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