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Past haunts nominee to W.Va. legislature

Jul. 27, 2013 @ 02:50 PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — An assistant attorney general who is among three nominees to fill the unexpired term of a West Virginia legislator faces the prospect of losing her law license.

The state Office of Disciplinary Counsel in February asked the state Supreme Court to suspend Wendy Elswick’s law license for her alleged actions as a public defender in the appeal of a man who killed two. The court has scheduled a hearing for September.

The names of Elswick and two other nominees have been forwarded to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for consideration to complete the unexpired term of Lincoln County Delegate Josh Stowers. The Democrat has taken a job as deputy to the state treasurer.

The proposed suspension of Elswick’s law license stems from her representation of Dana December Smith in his appeal of his 1992 conviction for stabbing two women to death.

In his appeal, Elswick argued that the crimes were really committed by Tommy Lee Sells, a Texas drifter who spent time in West Virginia about the same time the two women were killed.

Elswick went to Texas to interview Sells, who was on death row. Elswick allegedly hid evidence that Smith and Sells had known one another.

Tina Stinson, a spokeswoman for Tomblin, told the Charleston Gazette the governor had received the nominations to fill Stowers’ seat in the legislature on Friday. He has five days to appoint Stowers’ replacement.