The job of prosecuting the man accused of gunning down former Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum could revert to the Mingo County prosecutor's office, despite Kanawha County recently taking over the case.
In September, Michael Sparks, then the Mingo County prosecutor, requested a special prosecutor in the case against Tennis Melvin Maynard. In a vague statement, he said he'd recently learned of information that led him to believe he couldn't adequately do his job.
The Office of Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case shortly thereafter.
Since then though, Sparks has resigned from the office and is expected to plead guilty to federal charges. The Mingo County Commission will soon appoint a long-term replacement.
With Sparks no longer on the job, the circumstances requiring a special prosecutor in the Maynard case have changed, said Philip Morrison, executive director of the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute.
If the Mingo County Commission appoints a replacement within the next 60 days, there's a chance the judge in the case will again assign the Mingo prosecutor's office to the case.
"As long as they don't suffer a disqualification, then theoretically they could take (the case)," Morrison said Wednesday afternoon.
It's actually fairly common, especially during election years, Morrison said.
A prosecutor might step aside from a criminal case in October, and a special prosecutor is appointed. If the original prosecutor then loses an election or isn't running, the case can go back to the office and the new prosecutor once he or she takes over.
"But this case is getting dragged out and dragged out and the judge has the inherent authority to say, 'No, no we're going to stay with what we've got,'<!p><#148> Morrison said.
Right now, that's Plants, as well as assistant prosecutor Fred Giggenbach and others in the office.
This week, they met with Maynard's attorney and Cabell Circuit Judge Paul Farrell to discuss moving the trial from December to the first week of March. The tentative agreement allows time for possible mental evaluations, if that's deemed necessary, Plants said.
It also provides more time for the next Mingo County prosecutor to take the case. Giggenbach isn't sure that's a good idea.