West Virginia lawyer Jamison Conrad is facing a serious criminal charge that could result in not just his incarceration but his disbarment He is charged with with being an accessory after a malicious wounding. Conrad allegedly helped cover up a shooting by his friend, Michael Underwood, 30, in a dispute over a pizza delivery. The video below was released by the police of the struggle and shooting. You can see one of the two bullet wounds on the back of the shirt of the victim, of Charlie Scott, 23, in the light blue shirt. You can also see Conrad picking up the cellphone of Underwood, which the police claim is evidence in the crime.
The shooting reportedly occurred over a disagreement regarding a pizza delivery number on New Year’s Eve in the entrance way for the Recovery Sports Grill and the Ramada Inn Charleston.
Conrad not only took the phone and left the scene of the crime but he later refused to give the name of the shooter. In one account he said that he did not know the shooter. In another account, he said that the shorter was a “dear friend.”
Underwood has a permit for the gun used in shooting.
The question is whether picking up a cellphone of a fried is clearly an act of an accessory. Clearly, the phone would tie Underwood to the crime. However, there remains a question of intent. Here is the language of what may be the relevant provision:
Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, any person who knowingly harbors, conceals, maintains or assists the principal felon after the commission of the underlying offense violating the felony provisions of sections one, four, or nine of article two of this chapter, or gives such offender aid knowing that he or she has committed such felony, with the intent that the offender avoid or escape detention, arrest, trial or punishment, shall be considered an accessory after the fact and, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony and confined in a state correctional facility for a period not to exceed five years, or a period of not more than one half of the maximum penalty for the underlying felony offense, whichever is the lesser maximum term of confinement. But no person who is a person in the relation of husband and wife, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister, whether by consanguinity or affinity, or servant to the offender shall be considered an accessory after the fact.
It does seem clear that a crime of some kind has occurred, assuming that Conrad knew someone had been shot and they were leaving the scene of the crime. Moreover, there is no question that Conrad aided Underwood, but did he do so “with the intent that the offender avoid or escape detention, arrest, trial or punishment.” This happens very quickly and Conrad appears to spot the phone and pick it up. Moreover, Conrad has a protected right to remain silent and not give information to police. This is not to make excuses for him for what is clearly wrongful conduct, but the question is whether this is a criminal act. There is clearly a basis for the charge but it could come down to a jury decision of intent. It might of course not get that far if he can plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for his cooperation. With the video, there is less need for his testimony, so prosecutors may play hardball on a plea given his position as an officer of the court.
Conrad practices with his father but also serves as Fayette County’s mental hygiene commissioner. One report says that he has been suspended from that position.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones has already said that he is “going to look into filing ethics charges with the (West Virginia) bar. When a person from Fayette County comes to my city and is involved in a shooting like this and coaches the alleged perpetrator.”
In the end, it is a stupid confrontation and there appears fault on both sides. Indeed, the question is who started the confrontation. If Underwood claims self-defense, it will be difficult given the absence of any weapon shown in the hands of Scott.
Source: WV Metro