(04/05/2002)
By Bob Weaver

The West Virginia Prosecuting Attorney's Institute has yet to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate State Police Trooper Doug Starcher of Calhoun County for perjury and other possible misconduct.

Judge Thomas C. Evans III accepted a disqualification request from Calhoun Prosecuting Attorney Tony Morgan on February 11, 2002 and requested an outside prosecutor be appointed.

Trooper Starcher has been accused of lying before the Calhoun County court, which led to the indictment and year-long prosecution of Chloe resident Kelley Mace.

Mace said she was prosecuted by Starcher and his supervisor Sgt. John Bonazzo, using evidence that did not exist. The case was finally dropped. Mace filed a complaint with Prosecutor Morgan last November stating "I expect Trooper Doug Starcher to be prosecuted, as any other citizen who lies before a court of justice."

A spokesperson for Executive Director Alexander Ross of the Prosecuting Attorney's Institute said yesterday, the agency is having difficulty finding a prosecutor to take the case. "We tried to get the Roane prosecutor, but he declined," they said. "We try to find a prosecutor in the general vicinity."

State Trooper J. B. Schoolcraft of Logan has been investigating the Starcher case. The Institute said it was customary for the State Police to turn over their findings to special prosecutors.

The State Police declined to confirm what kind of action is being taken against Trooper Starcher, although sources state the investigation is "serious and continuing."

Trooper Starcher has reportedly been transferred to Kanawha County, and his supervising officer at the time of the incident, Sgt. John Bonazzo was transferred to Braxton County.

A review of court records and transcripts indicate Trooper Starcher lied more than once about evidence.

The State Police stated Mace was involved in a "million dollar" drug deal, claiming they seized an illegal drug on her property, which she says was common garden sulfur found in her garage.

Court records indicate the drug did not exist, nor was there any confirmation from the State Police lab of an illegal substance. She was also charged with intent to deliver the illegal substance.

Prosecuting Attorney Morgan said "Douglas Starcher is a senior trooper from the West Virginia State Police and is the arresting officer in pending cases wherein I am the prosecutor." Morgan indicated he was unclear what to do with the cases.

Mace's request for an investigation asserted "The record and investigation will clearly show criminal behavior and a violation of the laws of the State of West Virginia by Trooper Doug Starcher and his supervising officer Sgt. John Bonazzo."


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