More time needed
More time needed
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The trials of two former fugitives in a case involving child pornography saw their trials moved from this week to March to allow for further time to receive and analyze evidence.
Wesley Alan Burdge, 44, and Tabitha Lea Gallagher, 38, both of 108 Markatan St., Flushing, appeared before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato during Monday court hearings.
Burdge is accused of two counts of pandering sexually-oriented matter involving a minor, a second-degree felony, and two counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance, a fifth-degree felony, all occurring Oct. 11. Gallagher is accused of obstruction of justice, a felony of the third degree occurring Oct. 11.
Fregiato continued Burdge’s trial to March 7 and Gallagher’s to March 19.
Burdge’s trial had been scheduled for Wednesday, Gallagher’s for Thursday, but Burdge’s attorney, Brent Clyburn, said he was still awaiting information.
“I’m kind of flying blind, a little bit,” Clyburn said.
“I know that there’s been some clerical difficulties in gathering. … I’m not prepared to go forward on Wednesday.”
Belmont County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan agreed and joined in the request to continue.
Gallagher’s trial was rescheduled shortly afterward.
Burdge is being held in the Belmont County Jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond.
If convicted, he could be designated a Tier 2 offender.
Gallagher is being held on a bond of $25,000.
The pair became fugitives in October, after detectives served a search warrant the Markatan Street residence in Flushing in the course of an investigation of their roommate, John Null Garwon III.
The Internet Crimes Against Children Division of the Belmont County Major Crimes Unit had received evidence from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children indicating Garwon had been sharing child pornography on the internet.
Garwon was arrested, but Burdge and Gallagher reportedly fled with their two children, ages one and five.
After a manhunt of nearly a month, they were arrested in November in Washington, Pennsylvania, with the children.
The Belmont County Sheriff’s Department has indicated the possibility of further charges in the future, depending on the results of an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification concludes their examination of computer and phone data.
Garwon, 43, has been charged with pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor and rape. His trial is scheduled for March 12. He is incarcerated in lieu of $250,000 bond. The offenses carry maximum sentences of 8 years in prison and life without parole, respectively, and designation as a Tier 3 sex offender.