HUNTINGTON – A convicted murderer who has been representing himself in a series of attempts to overturn his conviction has made an unexpected move challenging the Governor’s appointment of Cabell County Prosecutor Sean “Corky” Hammers to fill the Circuit Judge position recently vacated by Chris Chiles.
Edward Jesse Dreyfuse has filed a writ with the State Supreme Court challenging the qualifications of Hammers. West Virginia Code “§51-3-18. Expeditious filling of judicial vacancies” says that in order for the newly appointed judge to sworn in, there must be no pending lawsuits challenging his qualifications.
Dreyfuse has claimed repeatedly that former Judge Chiles and Hammers while working together as prosecutors on his case knowingly allowed perjured testimony. He has gone as far as to request the ability to present his claims to a Grand Jury. Currently his legal matters are in Lincoln County before Judge Jay Hoke. Hoke became the presiding judge after all judges in Cabell County recused themselves due to the claims made by Dreyfuse.
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. 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. Dreyfuse claims that Hammers and Chiles had this information at his original trial but allowed testimony from witnesses who claimed the victim was beaten in the head with a baseball bat. Local media even dubbed him the “ball bat killer” after testimony was presented about the severity of the victim’s head injuries. Post-trial evidence has revealed the victim did not suffer the injuries as described at trial.
The qualifications for Circuit Judge simply state the judge must reside in the circuit they serve and must be admitted to practice law in West Virginia for at least five years prior to taking office. Hammers is a resident of Cabell County and has 30 years of legal experience, primarily serving within the Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. He dedicated 17 years as Assistant Prosecutor and has held the position of Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney since 2014.
The court must now rule on the veracity of Dreyfuse’s claim to challenge the appointment. We asked several attorneys for their opinion. The attorneys all say that until the court reviews the claim Hammers can not be sworn in, but most agree the claim will be dismissed.