Church burglar wants charges dropped, judge refuses

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

If you are a West Virginia native, are you also automatically a U.S. citizen and if you burglarize a church, who are you stealing from?

Those were some of the questions an alleged church burglar wanted a judge to ponder Wednesday. The accused thief wanted his freedom; the judge didn't have to think about it long before he denied the request.

Robert Crum, 26, of Huntington, W.Va., asked Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton to either

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dismiss the 19 counts of burglary against him or put on hold his trial that is scheduled for Nov. 28.

Through his court-appointed attorney, David Reid Dillon, Crum cited a number of reasons for his request. He contended that his arraignment was improperly conducted.

&#8220It's my understanding the court did not advise him of the charges against him and a plea was entered for him,” Dillon said. The attorney was appointed to handle Crum's case after the defendant wanted another attorney to sign a contract with him.

Through Dillon, Crum also contended his right to speedy trial had been violated since he waived his right to extradition from West Virginia Feb. 27 but was not arraigned until September, which exceeds 280 days.

Eighteen of the burglary charges against him involve break-ins at local churches and Crum maintained the ownership of the property of some churches are complex and cannot be determined.

He also contended that Ohio state courts have no jurisdiction in the matter since he is only a citizen of West Virginia but not the United States.

But Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Mack Anderson argued that while Crum waived extradition in February, Cabell County, W.Va., courts would not allow him to be sent to Lawrence County until the charges against him there were either disposed of or until he had posted bond in those courts.