POINT PLEASANT – At least for now, no charges will be brought against anyone suspected in the forgery of a settlement check owed to a Mason County physician.
Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Ginny Conley was in Point Pleasant on Tuesday, Sept. 5 to present a case to the Mason County grand jury in a criminal complaint of forgery filed by Mason physician Danny R. Westmoreland. However, prior to Conley presenting her case, Westmoreland withdrew his complaint.
The reason for the last-minute withdraw, Westmoreland said, was mostly due to the investigation focusing on the wrong person. Too much emphasis was placed on his ex-wife Kim Westmoreland, and not enough on the person whom he initially leveled the accusations – Point Pleasant attorney Raymond G. Musgrave – Westmoreland said.
"I could not stand the idea of seeing Kim in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs," Westmoreland said.
In fact, Danny said his absence from the courthouse Tuesday was partially due out of respect for Kim. According to Danny, when he asked Kim if she would like him to be with her to lend morale support, she respectfully declined.
Though she declined to comment specifically the focus of her investigation as special prosecutor, Conley acknowledged that Kim Westmoreland was "among several witnesses subpoenaed to testify." Though Musgrave was not seen near the courtroom where the grand jury was meeting, his secretary, Myra Shull, was, who Conley also acknowledged was subpoenaed to testify.
Kim Westmoreland, who was present with attorney R. Ford Francis, of the Charleston law office of Schumacher Francis & Nelson, declined to comment.
A miscommunication over his participation in the grand jury proceedings is another reason why Westmoreland said he was not present Tuesday. Expressing dissatisfaction in the way she was handling the investigation, Westmoreland in May filed a motion with Mason County Circuit Judge David W. Nibert for Conley be removed as special prosecutor.
According to Westmoreland he asked a new special prosecutor be appointed or he be allowed to present a case to the grand jury against Musgrave and Shull himself. According to court records, Nibert never acted on that motion.
However, Westmoreland said he received a call from Nibert's clerk about 2:45 p.m. Tuesday afternoon saying he would be allowed to present his case to the grand jury at 3 p.m. Citing there was no way he could make the 20-mile trip from Mason to Point Pleasant in 15 minutes coupled with the possibility of Kim being indicted is what Westmoreland said led him to fax a letter to West Virginia State Police Trooper First Class B.L. Keefer, the lead investigator in the case, for the investigation to cease.
Upon receiving Westmoreland's letter, Keefer and Conley met with Nibert behind closed doors for an impromptu status hearing on the case. After about 20 minutes, Conley emerged, saying her role as special prosecutor was complete.
"The judge has relieved me of my role as special prosecutor," Conley said. "The matter has been closed upon my request."
Case may be refiled in 2007
Though Conley's role may be complete, Westmoreland said the case is far from over. When the grand jury convenes for its January 2007 term, Westmoreland says he intends to present a case against Musgrave and Shull.
"I don't want this to end," Westmoreland said. "I feel the justice system is being protective of one of its own."
However, Conley said Westmoreland may not have much of a case. His best chance to receive justice came and went Tuesday.
"We looked into all the issues he raised and his decision to dismiss is consistent with what our investigation revealed," Conley said.
Also, Conley the move by Westmoreland to drop the complaint against Musgrave for this grand jury term to possibly reintroduce them during the next term is something she anticipated. Should Westmoreland refile his complaint, Conley said she'll be returning to Mason County.
"I have asked the judge if the case is ever brought back I be assigned special prosecutor," Conley said. "We completed a very through investigation in this case and I think it would be a through waste of resources to bring this case back. You can't play games with criminal justice system."