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Shirley sentenced for role in excessive force case

By Staff | May 17, 2013

WHEELING – Former Jefferson County Sheriff Robert “Bobby” Shirley was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison Monday by Judge John Preston Bailey in federal court.

Following the sentencing, Shirley calmly removed his belt and tie and sat as his probation officer removed his home confinement ankle bracelet. Shirley was led from the courtroom to begin his sentence handed down by Bailey.

After serving his time in prison, Shirley will face 18 months probation, according to the sentence.

The sentence came after nearly two hours of testimony, which included arguments by the prosecution and defense as well as character witnesses and the bank robber involved in the Dec. 27, 2010, incident that landed Shirley before the federal bench.

Shirley resigned from his position as sheriff Jan. 11, 2013, and days later pleaded guilty to one count of a federal indictment charging him with deprivation of rights under the color of law for using excessive force during the arrest of Mark Daniel Haines after a high-speed chase that followed an attempted bank robbery. Haines was in the courtroom Monday to testify.

“I thought I was the person on trial again,” Haines said after listening to a request by the defense to deny that he be counted as a vulnerable victim, which was denied by the court. “Shirley has apologized to his community and his family, but not to me.”

Haines directly addressed Shirley, saying “I was incapacitated, and you were the one person to stop it.”

The rule of the court added points to the defense level used in determining minimum and maximum sentences for the criminal behavior. Shirley’s points added to a total which had court guidelines of a minimum sentence of 30-41 months incarceration and a possible fine of up to $75,000.

Bailey handed down his sentence of 12 months and one day along with an order that Shirley pay restitution of $1,085.89 to Haines.

Several character witnesses testifyied on Shirley’s behalf, including County Commissioner Patricia “Patsy” Noland and lifelong resident Lyle “Cam” Tabb III, who each indicated that they would serve as a third-party location for Shirley to serve his sentence.

Bailey denied a request of Defense Attorney Kevin Mills seeking self-reporting or the third-party option of sentencing rather than having Shirley remanded into custody. The judge indicated that he had concern over Shirley’s mental state following testimony that indicated Shirley had reached a low point while dealing with the case and other personal issues.

While Mills attempted to ensure the judge the Shirley would be safer in a location other than a jail, the judge was not swayed in his decision.

“I am sufficiently concerned that I will remand him to custody of the U.S. Marshals,” Bailey said.

Bailey also indicated that he considered all factors in determining his sentencing, saying that a comparison between Haines and Shirley made by the defense was not pertinent.

“The defendant had a duty to uphold the law and protect an innocent person, and Haines was as yet innocent,” Bailey said. “As a law enforcement officer, he was tasked to protect and serve and did not do that on this occasion.”

Bailey went on to stress that “not even law enforcement officers are above the law.”

“To the extent that the judge recognized the unique circumstances and took into account the more than 65 letters of support sent to the court, we are glad that the sentence was not the recommended 30 months,” Mills said following Shirley’s removal from the courtroom. “We are disappointed that the judge did not understand our view of who Bobby is and what he deserved.”

The Bureau of Prisons will determine the location where Shirley will serve his sentence, Mills said. In his sentencing, Bailey ordered that Shirley be remanded to the closest facility to Kearneysville.