(10/17/2002)
A Calhoun man accused of sexually abusing a minor has been sent to William R. Sharpe Hospital in Weston for holding and for inpatient treatment. Russell Lee Collins, who has been declared incompetent by the court, was accused of sexual abuse on a six-year-old female.

The court concluded after psychiatric and psychological evaluations that Collins had the "intellectual functioning of a six or seven year old child."

Judge Thomas C. Evans III ordered the defendant's supervising physician or psychologist to cause the "defendant's competency to stand trial and dangerousness to self and others to be reviewed every six months" during his inpatient hospitalization.

The defendant's attorney Kevin Postalwait ask the State of West Virginia to disclose taped statements of the victim taken by Trooper Doug Starcher, with Licensed Social Worker Helen Jordan present. Although the court ordered Trooper Starcher to produce the tape, he was unable to do so.

Jordan, the social worker, testified under oath she witnessed Trooper Starcher recording the interview.

Attorney Postalwait told the court the State had a duty to preserve the material on the tape. He said "Anytime evidence is lost or destroyed it must become suspect .... The tape was a crucial part of the State's investigation," and it is missing.

"Losing evidence is negligent, no matter how innocently that negligence took place," said Postalwait, who raised other issues which he felt violated the case against Collins.

"The missing evidence in this case is vital for the defense of Russell Collins," said Postalwait. "It is vital for the search for truth .... I just know it is gone."

The State maintained credible evidence was presented which showed Collins was guilty of the crime and he was a danger.


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