MASON COUNTY — A special prosecutor appointed to represent the state of West Virginia in the trial against the man accused of shooting and killing René Gonzalez in 2011, is requesting the trial be delayed.
Mark A. Sorsaia, the Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney, has been appointed as a special prosecutor in the trial of Steven L Adkins, Jr., 26, Apple Grove.
As reported earlier, the original request to disqualify the Mason County Prosecuting Attorney and his staff from the Adkins case was made last year by then Prosecuting Attorney Damon Morgan and filed in the office of Circuit Clerk Bill Withers. Judge David W. Nibert granted the motion back in December and filed a request for appointment of a special prosecutor with the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorney’s Institute, also back in December.
At the time, the reason for the request stated:
“The upcoming Prosecuting Attorney of Mason County, West Virginia, has a conflict and/or his former law office associate represented the defendant and/or co-defendant in this case.”
Adkins was originally charged with murder and conspiracy in the Gonzalez case along with Matthew C. Woods, 25, Gallipolis Ferry and Chad W. McCallister, 31, Apple Grove. New Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Craig Tatterson was appointed to represent Woods last January when he was a private attorney. Tatterson asked to be removed from Woods’ case to avoid any possible future conflicts of interest and another attorney was appointed last year.
Sorsaia was given his oath as the special prosecutor on Feb. 14. On that same day, Sorsaia filed a motion to continue the Adkins trial to a later date, citing his recent appointment and the looming March 19 trial date as insufficient time to adequately prepare for the case.
Though he was indicted with Woods and McCallister, Adkins remains the last defendant in the Gonzalez murder who has not gone to trial or accepted a plea. Both Woods and McCallister have since accepted plea agreements. Woods pleaded guilty to second degree murder last year and was sentenced to a definite term of 10 years with the department of corrections by Judge Nibert. McCallister pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced last month to 10 years with the department of corrections, also by Judge Nibert.