Judge dismisses charges in South Hills shootout
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A judge on Tuesday dismissed attempted murder and wanton endangerment charges against a Charleston attorney who police say fired almost 50 rounds from several guns inside and out the windows of his home last year.
Three forensic psychiatrists found that Mark Bramble, 50, is “not criminally responsible” for the shooting, Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster said. She dismissed the charges with prejudice, meaning they cannot be filed again.
Dr. Delaney Smith, Dr. Bobby Miller and Dr. David Clayman all came to the same conclusion — that Bramble, a former lawyer in the state attorney general’s office, was competent to stand trial, but not criminally responsible.
“This is the first time I can recall in a case like this where competency and criminal responsibility is at issue and [all three] evaluators reached the same conclusion,” Webster said.
Clayman evaluated Bramble at the request of prosecutors. “That’s our expert,” said Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Keith Randolph, who was appointed to prosecute the case. “A criminal trial is unwarranted.”
Randolph was appointed after Bramble’s attorneys asked that Kanawha Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants’ office be removed from the case because Plants was Bramble’s neighbor and at home during the incident. Plants agreed. Bramble has since moved out of the Sherwood Forest neighborhood.
In August 2013, Bramble allegedly broke out a window and pointed a long gun and fired at police. One officer returned fire with an AR-15 rifle but did not hit Bramble.
“At the end of the day, three professionals, who deal with this every day say specifically the man was not criminally responsible,” Trent Redman, Bramble’s attorney, said Tuesday. “He doesn’t pose any risk to the community or himself.”
Clayman found that at the time of the incident Bramble was suffering from, among other things, bipolar disorder and psychosis, Webster said.
“He was in a drug-induced delirium,” the judge added, noting that Clayman spent much of his report describing Bramble’s consumption of Unisom, an over-the-counter sleep aid that caused Bramble to experience hallucinations and paranoia.
All of the evaluations have been filed under seal, Webster said. She asked Randolph to notify Charleston police of the psychologists’ findings.
Bramble has been free on bond since November. He spent several months in South Central Regional Jail until Webster ordered he be taken to Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital in Huntington for a mental evaluation.
Bramble is voluntarily still under the care of a psychologist, Redman told Webster.
The Supreme Court suspended Bramble’s law license shortly after the incident.
Bramble had worked in the Workers’ Compensation Division of the state Attorney General’s Office, but had turned in a letter of resignation days before the standoff with police. Before that, he worked at the Charleston firm Kesner, Kesner & Bramble.
Of the Kanawha County Circuit’s seven judges, only Webster and Duke Bloom didn’t recuse themselves from the Bramble case.
Reach Kate White at email@example.com, 304-348-1723 or follow @KateLWhite on Twitter.