The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

August 16, 2013

State seeks to toss charges in domestic torture case

By John Raby
The Associated Press

CHARLESTON — A special prosecutor filed a motion Friday to dismiss charges against a West Virginia man accused of torturing his wife for years.

Mason County Prosecutor Craig Tatterson cited a lack of admissible evidence, in part, in his motion to have malicious wounding and domestic battery charges dropped against Peter Lizon of Leroy.

Lizon already had asked the court to dismiss the charges, and a hearing on that is set for Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court. Lizon’s attorney, Michael Hissam, said it’s expected that Judge Thomas Evans will consider the state’s motion at the same time. Lizon’s attorneys claim authorities waited too long to prosecute him.

Lizon’s wife, Stephanie, has denied the allegations against her husband, has refused to cooperate with prosecutors and has said the couple are the victims of an overzealous prosecution and unfounded stories by people who don’t know them.

Tatterson didn’t immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Friday.

In his motion, Tatterson noted Stephanie Lizon’s denial of the allegations, that the majority of the evidence is “inadmissible hearsay,” and that any evidence which would be allowed in court “would not be sufficient to obtain a conviction at trial.”

Stephanie Lizon accused workers from the state Department of Health and Human Resources of using threats and intimidation after she testified last year at a preliminary hearing that accusations of torture were false.

Last July, Stephanie Lizon fled from her husband while at an equipment rental company, looking gaunt and limping. When she told staff she was trying to escape, an employee gave her the number for a domestic violence shelter and cash for a cab ride.

At the shelter, Stephanie Lizon told of being held captive for the better part of a decade — beaten, burned and even shackled.

The criminal complaint said she had “mutilated and swollen” feet, and dozens of photographs showed burns on her back and breasts from irons and frying pans. She also had scars on her wrists and ankles.

The complaint also said Stephanie Lizon had delivered a fully developed, stillborn child while in shackles, and that her husband buried the corpse on their farm.

Peter Lizon, a native of the Czech Republic, has been under home confinement while awaiting trial and barred from having contact with his wife as a condition of his release from jail. Evans allowed Lizon to be present for the private home birth of their daughter Thursday, and the couple are being allowed to spend five days together.

“They named her Bozena, which roughly translates as ‘gift of God,”’ Hissam said. “Baby and Stephanie are doing great.”

The Lizons’ young son was also delivered at home. Stephanie Lizon’s parents in Alexandria, Va., now have custody of him.

The original prosecutor, Kennad Skeen, removed himself from the case last month due to a conflict of interest because he previously represented the Lizons in criminal and civil matters.