CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A misdemeanor domestic battery charge is being dismissed against West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Secretary Stephen McDaniel, who had been accused of assaulting his ex-wife in Florida.
A judge in St. John’s County, Florida, filed an “Order removing erroneously filed information” on Monday.
The order uses the phrasing “nunc pro tunc,” which means the charge is wiped out retroactively as if it was never actually filed.
Attached to the order was a document dated April 22 from Florida prosecutors describing “intent not to prosecute.”
News of McDaniel’s arrest broke on Friday afternoon. He was charged earlier this month in Florida, where he maintains a home.
An initial police report indicated that McDaniel’s ex-wife believed he might kill her.
But officials in Florida initially reached a deferred prosecution agreement, which meant McDaniel would avoid charges if he abides by a set of terms for a year.
MetroNews was checking with the prosecutor’s office in Florida for more context about the change.
After the event occurred, McDaniel described it to officials with the Governor’s Office, provided contact with his lawyer and offered to resign if the situation would reflect poorly on the governor, said Brian Abraham, general counsel for the governor.
But Abraham said he advised the governor to decline the resignation offer.
“There’s no change. I don’t anticipate any change being recommended to the governor,” Abraham said Monday.
Abraham was a prosecutor in Logan County for a decade and also spent time as a defense attorney. He said he took the deferred prosecution agreement into account when advising the governor.
Abraham suggested the Florida prosecutors would have been more aggressive with the case if they strongly believed there was wrongdoing.
“Even if you have an alleged victim who recants or says they don’t want to prosecute, they’ll go forward regardless,” he said.
“That did not happen in this instance, so that to me is a flashing red light that there is more to this than just what was printed in the officer’s complaint.”
The arrest report notes that McDaniel’s ex-wife made a statement to police with a bruise on her left eye and a laceration under her upper lip. Police observed red marks on her neck.
“It is to be noted, the victim was shaken up, crying and appeared terrified,” the police report stated.
McDaniel’s ex-wife was at a home she has been preparing to be sold when McDaniel arrived after drinking at local bars, the report alleges. The report indicates a verbal altercation was prompted by accusations that McDaniel had been cheating.
“The victim stated the verbal altercation escalated when the defendant became physical with her,” the arrest record states.
“The victim stated the incident was a blur, but the defendant had the victim on the bed, was on top of her with his knee pressing down on her left forearm. The victim stated her hair was in her face when the defendant placed one hand on her mouth and nose, causing her to have some trouble breathing.”
The report continues, “It is to be noted the victim never lost consciousness.”
She felt like her life was in danger, the report alleges.
“The victim stated the defendant picked up a lamp and was standing next to the bed, and was shaking the lamp,” the report stated. “The victim believed the defendant was going to kill her.”