The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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January 14, 2013

Prosecutor looking forward to employing new investigator

BECKLEY — The Raleigh County Prosecutor’s Office will soon have an extra set of hands to help ease the overwhelming criminal caseload after the county commission approved Kristen Keller’s request Tuesday to hire an investigator.

“I’m very grateful to the commission, under president Tolliver, for granting this request,” Keller said.

She said she was hopeful of being able to hire an investigator, so she advertised for the position about a month ago. She said the application window has closed and she hopes to select a candidate by the Jan. 22 Commission meeting so they can approve his or her hiring.

The investigator will function as a paralegal, work on child abuse and neglect cases, as well as assist with the backlog of appeals and habeas corpus cases.

Keller said extensive experience in the courtroom is a must for the new position.

“We have such a backlog of cases. It’s just enormous. Raleigh County is among the top four counties in the state with criminal caseloads.”

She said hiring an investigator will pay for itself; cases will be resolved more quickly and jail fees will be reduced because offenders can be moved more quickly to the Division of Corrections.

If case resolution is delayed, Keller said that can have a negative impact on crime victims, especially if those victims are children or witnesses.

“They can’t move on if the case isn’t closed.”

With the help of an investigator, Keller hopes to see more cases resolved more rapidly.

Since Keller was elected Raleigh County prosecuting attorney in 2008, this will be the first time the office has had an investigator.

She said in the 1980s there was an investigator who worked at the prosecutor’s office, but the focus was mostly narcotics cases.

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