MOUNDSVILLE - Following six court terms with no activity in his case, Robert C. Dobrzynski has been cleared of all charges against him.
In Marshall County Circuit Court on Thursday, the case against the man once convicted on four counts of second-degree sexual assault was dismissed by Judge Mark A. Karl. While Dobrzynski and both his attorneys, David White and Robert McCoid, were present, special prosecutor Brent Wolfingbarger of Pleasants County, W.Va., was not.
"After five long years, he's glad it's over," White said of his client. "He's happy to be able to see his kids."
Robert C. Dobrzynski, right, appears in
Marshall County Circuit Court on
Thursday with his attorney, David White.
Photo by Annie Dimmick
That's one thing Dobrzynski has not been able to do because of a family court order in December 2006, a little over a year after the two-day trial that resulted in his conviction. He was accused of sexually assaulting his then-wife, Katrina, and the trial included the showing of a videotape in which the alleged assault took place. During the trial, one witness, John Varner, testified he had been given the damaged tape by Katrina for repair, and that he removed 6 feet of damaged tape in the process. While Katrina testified she did not alter the tape, Dobrzynski testified that a portion of what had been taped that night was missing and that he later destroyed the tape at her request.
However, later that year, Varner sent another videotape to Dobrzynski's then-trial attorney Heather Wood, telling West Virginia State Police that the tape he returned to Katrina was not the tape shown in court. According to court documents, this new video included the two engaging in consensual sex on what may be the night in question; it goes on to show what the jury saw in court. Based on this evidence, Karl vacated Dobrzynski's conviction and granted a new trial in March 2007. He also ordered an investigation of Katrina Dobrzynski and John Varner.
No other information regarding those investigations was available from Marshall County Circuit Court. According to Marshall County Prosecutor Jeff Cramer, those investigations are being handled by Wetzel County Prosecutor Tim Haught.
In a statement to West Virginia State Police, Katrina claimed she had made a copy of the tape after it had been repaired but accidentally destroyed the original and turned the copy over to the state. She also told police the copy was of the entire tape given to her by Varner. She also has denied that the footage on the new video was filmed on the same night as the alleged assault.
Earlier this year, White and McCoid filed a motion to dismiss the case because more than three regular terms of court had passed since the new trial was granted. During the Thursday hearing, Karl noted Wolfingbarger has never made an appearance in court on the case, nor has he filed any motions. He also cited W.Va. Code 62-3-21, which states: "Every person charged by presentment or indictment with a felony or misdemeanor, and remanded to a court of competent jurisdiction for trial, shall be forever discharged from prosecution for the offense, if there be three regular terms of such court, after the presentment is made or the indictment is found against him, without a trial ... "
Following Karl's dismissal ruling, White told the judge he did receive a request to dismiss the case from Wolfingbarger late Wednesday. In the request, White said Wolfingbarger states the case "merits no further prosecution" as the odds of obtaining a conviction, due to the evidence, are slim.
"I don't know what revelation came to him in the last 22 months," Karl said of Wolfingbarger, noting the matter should have been set for trial months ago.