Judge dismisses charges in W.Va. torture case
RIPLEY, W.Va. — The case against a West Virginia man accused of torturing his wife collapsed Monday when a judge dismissed the charges, in part because the woman denied the allegations and refused to cooperate with prosecutors.
About a year ago, Stephanie Lizon fled from her husband and told domestic violence shelter workers she had been captive for the better part of a decade — beaten, burned and even shackled. Her husband, Peter Lizon, was arrested and charged with malicious wounding and domestic battery.
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Evans tossed out those charges Monday. Lizon's attorneys contended authorities waited too long to prosecute him and said the original prosecutor who brought the charges had a conflict of interest.
Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Craig Tatterson, who is serving as a special prosecutor, left open the possibility for future charges, saying the case was still under investigation.
Tatterson also requested the charges be dropped, saying there wasn't enough evidence. In court documents, Tatterson said Stephanie Lizon denied the allegations against her husband and refused to cooperate. He also said the couple was the victim of an overzealous prosecution and unfounded stories by people who don't know them.
Last July, Stephanie Lizon fled from her husband while at an equipment rental company, looking gaunt and limping. When she told staff she was trying to escape, an employee gave her the number for a domestic violence shelter and cash for a cab ride.
At the shelter, Stephanie Lizon told of being held captive. The criminal complaint said she had "mutilated and swollen" feet, and dozens of photographs showed burns on her back and breasts from irons and frying pans. She also had scars on her wrists and ankles.
Peter Lizon, a native of the Czech Republic, was under home confinement while awaiting trial and barred from having contact with his wife.
The judge allowed Lizon to be present for the home birth of their daughter last week, and the couple spent five days together.
On Monday, another judge removed the restrictions against the couple seeing each other, and the couple and newborn were together outside the courthouse.
The Lizons also have a young son who was delivered at home. Stephanie Lizon's parents in Alexandria, Va., now have custody of him.
The original prosecutor, Kennad Skeen, removed himself from the case last month due to a conflict of interest because he previously represented the Lizons in criminal and civil matters.
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