(12/15/2007)
Fayette County Circuit Judge John Hatcher has declared a mistrial in the case against suspended Braxton County magistrate Carolyn Cruickshanks.

After four hours of deliberation, the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked on whether Cruickshanks was guilty of conspiring to retaliate against a state witness.

Prosecutors will likely ask the judge to reschedule the trial during the court's February term, according to James Wilson Douglas, a Sutton lawyer who represents Cruickshanks.

State Police charged Cruickshanks in March with delivering court documents to her son Jordan Grubb, who was being held in Central Regional Jail on felony drug charges.

The documents allegedly contained a copy of the plea agreement and a transcription of the plea hearing for Phillip Dailey, who testified against Grubb in exchange for the deal, according to the Charleston Daily Mail.

Dailey was being housed in the same jail as Grubb. Police said other inmates saw the documents and deemed Dailey a snitch, prompting jail authorities to move him into protective custody, the paper reported.

Cruickshanks, who has been at odds with the WV State Police in Braxton County, has been a magistrate for eight years. State Police previously brought ethics charges against her.

Sgt. John Bonnazo, detachment commander in Braxton, had once placed Cruickshank's son on a "target list."

Bonazzo circulated the "target list" to the Braxton Sheriff's office, the Gassaway Police Department and others, listing eleven Braxton residents, including two juveniles, stating "These people do not need to be given a break if you stop them."

Douglas said yesterday that the language in the law at issue probably was a sticking point for jurors.

The law under which Cruickshanks was charged says the victim of the crime has to suffer some physical injury or loss of possessions due to the retaliation.

"I think it's pretty clear from all the evidence that Dailey did not suffer any injury or loss of property," Douglas said.

Douglas speculated that Dailey's having to eat, bathe and have recreation at other times than the general population of the jail didn't rouse sympathy in some jurors.

Cruickshanks remains on unpaid suspension as a magistrate and free on $10,000 bond. She faces up to five years in prison on the charge.


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