The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 19, 2013

Jails chief says ‘human error’ at SRJ led to release of accused killer

BECKLEY — Officials confirm Anthony Lee Ramsey, who is accused of murder, was released Tuesday from Southern Regional Jail although he was remanded to custody by a Greenbrier County Circuit Court order issued by Judge James J. Rowe during a March 1 arraignment.

Joe DeLong, executive director of the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority, said, “(Wednesday) I was given every indication that his release was a clerical error and there was no circuit court order in the file indicating he should be bound over.”

However, after asking to see Southern Regional Jail’s complete file on Ramsey, DeLong said he now believes the release was a human error within the jail system.

“I have personally seen the court order and it was in our possession when he was released,” he said.

DeLong said the central jail authority is in the process of conducting an internal investigation at Southern Regional Jail and more information on exactly how the error was made should be forthcoming.

He did explain that the jail files are printed out and kept in a paper file.

“There are several people involved and steps in the process that review each file. That being said, these files can be quite lengthy and under several different case numbers. It can be difficult sometimes but this is what we do on a daily basis and it is our job and responsibility,” he said.

Greenbrier County Magistrate Brenda J. Smith did sign an order on Tuesday stating that charges were dismissed against Ramsey; however, Judge Rowe said dropping the magistrate-level charges against an individual after an indictment in a higher court is not unusual.

In this instance, Ramsey was indicted quickly, within a month of the incident, and his case remained pending in magistrate court and needed to be dismissed to clear the books.

Moreover, any paperwork from the magistrate court should not have superseded an order from the circuit court, he said.

“Obviously a magistrate court order dismissing a case does not affect a circuit court order that remands a man to jail,” he said. “We are concerned that this does not happen again. Ramsey could have been in Mexico by Tuesday. We will do whatever we need to do to help ensure this does not happen in the future,” he added.

Ramsey, 51, of Alta, was taken back into custody Wednesday by the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office at a residence in Lewisburg.

Ramsey was originally arrested on Jan. 9, 2013, after allegedly shooting Brian Meadow, 25, of Talcott, after a verbal altercation.

Ramsey was arraigned in Greenbrier County Circuit Court on March 1 before Rowe and sent back to Southern Regional Jail on a $50,000 bond to await a May 22 trial.

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com

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