Accused South Hills shooter seeks recusal of Mark Plants
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The attorney accused of a shooting rampage in a South Hills neighborhood wants the county prosecutor to be recused from his case because he lives two doors away.
Trent Redman, defense attorney for Mark Bramble, filed a motion in Kanawha Circuit Court Tuesday, asking for a special prosecutor to replace Mark Plants.
Plants said he is trying to determine whether he should be removed from Bramble's criminal case or can legally handle it.
"I want to prosecute this defendant," Plants said. "I want to prosecute any defendant. To me, there's not a conflict there.
"I want to vigorously protect my neighborhood," he said. ""Just as I would want to protect anyone else's neighborhood."
Bramble held a large assembly of law enforcement officers at bay at his Sherwood Forest home as he shot randomly from multiple weapons the morning of Aug. 12. Plants was one of those neighbors who was told to remain inside his home.
"I was home at the time, my children were home," Plants said. "Law enforcement officers knocked on my door and my son answered.
"They said, 'are your parents home?' and I see Eric Smith, a person I know. He said get your kids out of the windows, someone is shooting down the street."
Plants and his family moved to a room in their house that is behind a hillside, and they heard shots during the standoff.
"I was not scared for our safety," he said. "We were within range of a stray shot, but I can't honestly say we were in fear. But we couldn't leave our house."
Bramble is charged with attempted murder and wanton endangerment. He remains incarcerated at South Central Regional Jail.
Plants said he has never been asked to step aside from a case in his eight years as prosecutor.
"I had an inkling they were going to do it," he said. "I'm not surprised by it. I'm in the process of doing some legal research, trying to find out what my professional responsibility is.
"The thrust of the motion is that I have a self-interest in prosecuting this defendant," he said.
Redman wrote in the motion, "In this matter, not only does the Kanawha County Prosecutor have a professional pressure to convict, he has a personal stake in keeping his neighborhood safe by keeping the Defendant out of the neighborhood.
"Of course, if the Defendant makes bond he could potentially move back into his house located in the Prosecutor's neighborhood. Undoubtedly, Mr. Plants' personal interest in ensuring the safety of his own neighborhood and family goes far beyond that of his ordinary professional duty as a prosecutor."
Redman's motion also says Plants has a personal interest in keeping Bramble incarcerated.
Last week, Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach objected to a bond for Bramble that would have allowed him to post 10 percent, or $25,000 cash, and be released from jail. He asked that a prior $200,000 cash bond remain in effect, and a judge agreed.
A hearing on the recusal motion will be held Friday before Circuit Judge Carrie Webster. All but two county judges have already recused themselves from Bramble's case because of a conflict of interest.
"If I am recused, then everybody in my office has to be recused," Plants said. "And they would have to call in a special prosecutor."
Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4832.