NEW CUMBERLAND - Although a court-appointed attorney told Magistrate Michael W. Powell he doesn't believe a charge of kidnapping against his client was proven during a preliminary hearing Friday, Powell ordered the felony cases against Jeffrey Nally Jr. bound over to a grand jury.
"I don't think kidnapping is proven in any way, shape or form," said attorney James Carey. He argued the woman testified she was still in love with Nally and stayed with him of her own free will.
Powell, however, said there was probable cause to send the felony cases to the Hancock County Circuit Court.
Nally, 19, was arrested March 9 and charged by the West Virginia State Police with one count of kidnapping and 29 counts of felony animal cruelty. Prosecutor Jim Davis said the charges will be considered by the grand jury seated in April.
Davis presented Nally's former girlfriend, her mother, Cpl. Larry Roberts of the West Virginia State Police and Sgt. Brian Swan of the Hancock County Sheriff's Office Special Response Team as witnesses.
Carey did not present any witnesses on Nally's behalf, but questioned each of the prosecution's witnesses about ownership of weapons in the home. He asked both Roberts and Swan if on initial entry into the home at 1855 Orchard Lane on March 9 they had a warrant for Nally's arrest or a warrant to search the house. He asked if either Nally or his now former girlfriend gave them permission to enter or search the home.
Swan said he first made sure the 19-year-old Clarksburg woman was safely out of the home, then led the other three members of the sheriff's office SRT in to get Nally. He said Nally was where the girl said he'd be, on a mattress near a wood-burning stove in the living room.
When Carey asked why law enforcement entered the home after dark with weapons drawn, Swan said they acted in response to a call from the girl's mother. The woman testified that her daughter called and said she needed to get out of the house and away from Nally, and that Nally said he would kill her and anyone who tried to get her out of the home.
"He said he would wound me, then make me watch him kill anyone who tried to come in and get me - police or not," she told the Court Friday. "He said he would then kill me and kill himself."
Roberts said he spoke with the woman's mother, who was in Clarksburg, several times on March 9, and determined he needed more than just a fellow trooper for backup. He said he met briefly with Swan and other SRT members before they went to the house at 1855 Orchard Lane.
Roberts said he stayed at the back of the house with Sheriff's Deputy Pat Hoder to prevent Nally from escaping from a back door. They had radio contact with the SRT members at the front of the house.
"We called the victim's mother (in Clarksburg) and got her positioned to call her daughter and tell her that in two minutes she should get out the front door."
Swan said the SRT stacked behind bushes near the front door. The team's cue to enter was when the woman came out of the house. He said the last two SRT members asked her where Nally was. She then went out to the road where she was met by Chief Deputy Todd Murray of the sheriff's office, and got into his vehicle.
Carey asked Swan why the SRT team went into the dark house with guns drawn. He said the decision to use the SRT and enter that way was based on the woman's mother's statements that Nally was a threat to her daughter and to any responding officers.
Swan said Nally was lying on a mattress on his stomach. SRT members announced themselves. Swan said he secured Nally, handcuffing him and sitting him in a chair. Swan said he searched the immediate area for weapons while other SRT members searched the house to make sure no one else was there.
He said Nally mumbled some things, but his primary statement as Swan looked around the living room was "Go ahead and search without a warrant."
Swan said after making sure the house was safe and there was no one else in the house, officers took Nally to the Hancock County Courthouse and turned him over to the officer in charge of the second floor jail.
He said he and Hoder were scheduled to work the night shift and so went home and changed into the uniforms for their regular shift. They and other officers returned with a search warrant, then spent the night collecting evidence, digging up the graves of the dogs and locating others that were tossed out in plastic bags.
Roberts and Swan said as they searched the house Nally's former girlfriend showed them a shotgun and rifle were hidden behind wall panels, and where the dogs were buried.
The Clarksburg woman said during her testimony that she did move in with Nally leaving her home in early December. They fought periodically but made up, and a few times when her mother asked if she wanted to come home, she'd tell her yes. Later she would say they had worked things out and she wanted to stay.
"I won't lie," she said. "I'm in love with him. I just can't deal with his stuff anymore."
She said he would get the dogs and puppies and tell them they were for her. Then she would do something and make him mad, and he would kill them. He said he always killed the dogs in the house, then made her clean up the mess.
She said Nally killed the first dog in late December, a coonhound.
She said about two weeks after he killed the coonhound, Nally began collecting dogs, sometimes three or four at a time.
He was killing dogs and becoming abusive to her, she said. As the situation grew worse, he began to threaten her if she tried to leave.
She said only Nally's grandmother had a vehicle. She said Nally rarely left her alone, and would go in the bathroom with her.
Once when Nally and his grandmother left her alone at a laundromat, she called police. She said she was still on the phone with police when Nally returned.
"When he found out I was talking to the police, he told me to tell them I made everything up."
The woman's mother told the court that when she called the last time before she called police on March 9, she was talking to her daughter and could hear a puppy yelping in the background. Her daughter said she was afraid for her life.
"Nally said he was going to drill the pup's teeth out," the mother said. "He said if anyone tried to get her out of the house, she would leave in a body bag. I heard his voice in the background: 'Have you ever killed a dog before?' He said he would give me one if I wanted one."
Rogers and Swan said Friday they found the black puppy Nally had apparently killed that day. They said a drill near where Nally lay when the SRT team went in appeared to have dried blood on it, and on the chuck, where the drill bit is inserted. Both said instead of a regular drill bit there was a nail or other sharp object in the chuck.
The woman's account of the conversation with her mother on the last day was that Nally asked her mother if she'd ever killed a dog. "He said he would get her one. He told her, 'It's a thrill.'"
She said when Nally was killing the dogs, "he had a gleam in his eye, like he was having a blast. Then it was like nothing ever happened."
She told police Nally had her call people who advertised puppies and kittens in the 'Bargain Hunter' and then he would get directions and have the people drop the animals off at the house. She said sometimes the dogs would last a few weeks, others he would kill after a few days, or almost right away.
"Some would last weeks, others not even an hour," she said.
He said he planned to get a horse and other animals to keep in a small barn on the property, and got some cats and kittens he said he was going to put out there to catch mice, the woman said. She said he killed them all the same day.
She said he was killing the dogs because they bit him.
She told of him shooting dogs, beating them, hitting them with a hammer. "He'd say 'a dog that bites is a lousy dog,' and then he said all the dogs bit him."
She said sometimes he forced her to hold the dogs and puppies while he killed them, and sometimes made her kill them. She said she would shoot them, and when the prosecutor asked why, she said it was because he had a gun to her head or a fist raised if she didn't.
Asked why she helped him, she said, "Because I knew the consequences if I didn't."
Nally's former girlfriend said a pig Nally paid $60 for, and three dogs survived, a black lab puppy, a lab and boxer mix, and an older gray poodle.
She said the last dog killed was a puppy, a brother to the black lab.
"The puppy chewed the cord to his PlayStation and he couldn't play it," she said.
(Tullis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)