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Robber held in contempt for refusing to testify

May. 21, 2013 @ 06:51 AM

HUNTINGTON — A convicted robber has been held in contempt of court for refusing to testify against a co-defendant in a December 2011 robbery that targeted a house of college students.

Edward Kent Stephens, through his attorney, maintained his refusal to testify Monday against Markus Jermaine Mayo.

Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell immediately responded, finding Stephens in direct, civil contempt of court. The punishment is a stay of his 15-year prison sentence, meaning that Stephens will remain behind bars without receiving credit for time served in contempt.

The judge also vowed to report Stephens’ refusal to testify to the state Parole Board.

“You’re just doing dead time until further notice,” Farrell told Stephens.

Stephens and Mayo, both 24, are among four men charged in a Dec. 15, 2011, home invasion. It targeted five people, some of whom were Marshall University students, at a house in the 1500 block of Rear 7th Avenue. Cellphones and wallets were among the stolen items.

Investigators soon arrested Stephens and fellow co-defendant Tanner Raymond Johnson, 20, of Huntington. Both pleaded guilty without a grand jury indictment and received sentences of 15 years in prison.

Mayo and a fourth co-defendant, Harry Joseph Williams, were indicted in June 2012. Williams remains at large.

Johnson also was hesitant to testify, but reconsidered when faced with the possibility of civil contempt.

Cabell County Prosecutor Chris Chiles had granted “use immunity” to Johnson and Stephens, however that privilege did not provide either man a right to refuse testimony. The use immunity simply protects each man against self-incrimination based upon their testimony as it is related to the Dec. 15, 2011, robbery.

Farrell thanked Johnson for his cooperation and granted his request to be housed at a different facility, perhaps the South Central Regional Jail near Charleston.

Mayo’s attorney, Tim Rosinsky, considered Johnson’s testimony a “wild card” in comments after court. Moments earlier, he and Chiles indicated to the court that he had provided different accounts as to Mayo’s involvement.

Follow Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.

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