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Life Sentence in Limbo: Inmate Files Unprecedented Writ to Compel Judge’s Decision on Murder Case

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Judge Jay Hoke
Judge Jay Hoke

HAMLIN – Edward Jesse Dreyfuse has told WV Statewide News he has filed a writ of mandamus with the West Virginia Supreme Court asking the court to compel Judge Jay Hoke to issue a ruling on the matters before him.

Dreyfuse was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to life in prison without mercy for the murder of Otis Clay Jr, a 66-year-old mentally impaired man.  Hoke is presiding over a habeas corpus hearing in the case that comes after all Cabell circuit judges recused themselves.

A habeas corpus preceding is a writ of inquiry to test the reasons or grounds for detention.  Dreyfuse has not only denied his role in the attack that led to Clay’s death but has represented himself from prison while trying to show his innocence.  The current matter before Hoke has included expert testimony that claims the result of Clay’s death was due to potential medical malpractice and not a direct result of the injuries Clay suffered.

“The (Huntington) Herald-Dispatch gave him the nickname ‘The Ball Bat Killer,’” said Robert Lewingdon, who says he is a friend of the defendant.  Testimony provided at the grand jury initial murder indictment and at trial said the mentally impaired man was attacked with a baseball bat during an attack on April 9, 2012, at Clay’s West Huntington home.  The testimony largely focused on trauma to Clay’s head.  Witnesses even claimed in the testimony that they had “cleaned up brain matter” at the scene.  Evidence now shows Clay suffered no head injuries.

Dreyfuse says he has spent years trying to obtain these records and that many of the records were under seal.  While self-representing he has had multiple cases in Cabell County, WV Supreme Court, and US Federal Court.  Attorneys involved in the cases have remarked that his level of success is extraordinary.

The trial before Hoke started in early 2022 and concluded in October of 2023.  If granted the writ would require Hoke to issue an order within 90 days. 

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  • Staff Writer

    From the WV Statewide News Team. Articles depicting "Staff Writer" indicate the content was prepared by several members of the news team.

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From the WV Statewide News Team. Articles depicting "Staff Writer" indicate the content was prepared by several members of the news team.

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