Magistrate Ben Shepler denied a request to modify bond for an Elkins man facing 36 felony charges - including incest and sexual assault - Friday in Randolph County Magistrate Court.
Derek Jason Shifflett, 30, is charged with 12 felony counts of incest; 12 felony counts of first-degree sexual assault; and 12 felony counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person in a position of trust to a child.
Shifflett's bond is set at $360,000 cash only and will remain so until Shepler has determined whether or not there is probable cause to bind the case over to a grand jury in Randolph County Circuit Court, the magistrate said.
Shifflett's preliminary hearing had been slated for Friday morning; however, his attorney, James Hawkins, requested a continuance in the case, arguing that he needed more time to prepare for the hearing and consult with Shifflett, who has been lodged in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail since early October. He remained there as of presstime Friday.
Shepler granted the continuance, but informed Hawkins that he would not modify bond until he had an opportunity to consider arguments made in the preliminary hearing.
"I will grant a continuance, but it's my policy that I will not modify bond before I hear the testimony in the case," Shepler said.
Shifflett was arrested Oct. 2 for allegedly sexually abusing a minor on multiple occasions from Sept. 27, 2011, through Sept. 27, 2012.
Although Hawkins conceded the charges lodged against Shifflett were "repugnant," he called the $360,000 bail excessive.
"When I was looking at the bail, I actually thought it was a mistake," Hawkins said. "$360,000 cash? If that's not a denial of bail, nothing is. We might as well make it $100 billion. How is $360,000 not excessive?" Hawkins argued there was no existing evidence to suggest Shifflett wouldn't show up for court and asked Shepler to lower Shifflett's bond to $50,000 cash, surety or property.
Randolph County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shannon Johnson said the state "absolutely and strenuously" objected to any modification or reduction of bond.
"What I want to focus on today is the danger to the community that (Shifflett) represents," Johnson said. "If someone is so heinous as to molest (an underage relative), why wouldn't he molest other children?"
Johnson also initially objected to Hawkins' request for a continuance due to the stress waiting would add to the shoulders of the alleged victim, who had been prepared to testify Friday if necessary. When Shepler granted the motion for continuance, he noted that due to the alleged victim's age and relationship to Shifflett, the victim would not be permitted to testify in magistrate court.
A preliminary hearing will be scheduled for a later date.
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.