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Date set for new trial of Joseph Buffey

CLARKSBURG, W.Va.– A new trial date has been tentatively set for Joseph Buffey, the Harrison County man permitted late last year to withdraw guilty pleas related to a sexual assault/ robbery case from 2001.

Judge John Lewis Marks, who took over the case last month, scheduled for arguments to begin on October 11.

Attorneys representing Buffey also filed a motion during Tuesday’s status conference requesting modification to the terms of his release on home confinement.

David Romano, a special prosecutor helping represent the state, told the court they had no objection with extending the limits of Buffey’s tracking device from inside the home in Enterprise to the front porch and edge of the yard.

Another modification will allow Buffey to leave the premises under certain circumstances without having to file a motion each time.

Defense attorney Micheal Hissam said his client could be granted monitored permission for events such as attorney visits, medical appointments and work if it was approved by both prosecutors and the home confinement officer.

All other instances would still have to be approved by a judge.

“If you think it’s being abused, let me know and I’ll address it,” Judge Marks said.

Buffey was allowed to withdraw guilty pleas back in February on two counts of first-degree sexual assault and one count of first-degree robbery after a state Supreme Court ruling.

He originally pled guilty to two counts of first-degree sexual assault and one count of first-degree robbery as part of a deal with the state and was sentenced to 70 years in prison, starting in 2002.

However, Buffey later learned of DNA evidence —which was later used to convict another man who lived near the elderly victim– was available during the plea bargaining phase but not brought to his attention by the state because they were already in that phase.

With help of the the New York-based Innocence Project and Morgantown attorney Al Karlin, Buffey mounted a successful appeal on the grounds his right to exculpatory evidence was violated.

After serving 14 years of his sentence, he was released on bond with the condition of electronically-monitored home confinement.

Buffey now faces that charges he withdrew pleas to, plus additional charges related to a separate robbery which were dropped as part of the deal with the state.

The next appearance in court for Buffey will be for the pretrial hearing scheduled for July 15 after Judge Marks worked Tuesday morning with attorneys to establish a timeline.

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