By Ron Gregory
WILLIAMSON — Charleston attorney Mike Clifford said he has conferred with his clients and is prepared to proceed “with all due speed” on the Dawson Isom case in Mingo County Circuit Court.
Clifford had suffered from health problems but said he is now “back on my feet and ready to practice law.” To that end, Clifford said he expects to schedule several matters involving the case “within the next month.”
“When we get into next week,” he said Friday, “we will be looking at scheduling depositions and proceeding fully on this civil case.”
Clifford sued Gary and Eric Rash on behalf of Dawson Isom, who was beaten into a coma nearly a year ago on Second Avenue in Williamson. Isom has been in a comatose condition since May 30, 2015. He remains in a skilled nursing facility in Kentucky.
The incident was investigated by officers from the Williamson Detachment of the West Virginia State Police. Following the initial investigation, Mingo County Prosecutor Teresa Maynard secured a misdemeanor indictment against Eric Rash for the beating. That indictment was eventually dismissed at Maynard’s request after she failed to convince Isom family members that a fine of $500 and probation would be an appropriate sentence for Rash.
Although stories varied about how the incident began, video tapes of the scene show that at least three juveniles were physically assaulted during the Saturday morning battle. The parents of the two other juveniles have said they requested law enforcement assistance after learning that their two sons had been hit. One video of the incident appears to reveal the voice of a female screaming at the Rashes to stop hitting the juveniles. At one point, the voice is heard to say, “… he is only (age omitted), Gary!”
An insurance company for the Rashes has obtained counsel to represent the pair in the civil case. Clifford, a former Kanawha County prosecutor, was hired privately by the Isom family.
Clifford said Friday he expects to schedule “discovery depositions” in the case within the next 30 days. “We are going to proceed full speed with every intention of taking this case to trial,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Isom family and critics of Maynard have questioned why she has not aggressively pursued criminal charges in the case. “It is not a misdemeanor,” said Dawson Isom’s father, David. “We have not heard a word from our son nor seen a movement from him for a year and she thinks a $500 fine takes care of that?”
The Isom case has become an issue in Maynard’s bid for renomination as Prosecutor in the May 10 election. Although her opponent, Duke Jewell, has not spoken publicly about the case, Isom family members and supporters believe Jewell’s nomination would change the outlook of the Prosecutor’s office. “He can’t be as bad as she (Maynard) is,” said David Isom. “At least we could have some hope for justice.”
Maynard has not discussed the case publicly either. She refuses to accept or return repeated phone calls about the matter from the Corridor Chronicle. Other Mingo media outlets have published glowing stories of Maynard’s efforts to prosecute those charged with animal cruelty while ignoring her failure to act in the Isom case.
The Chronicle has endorsed Jewell’s bid for Prosecutor. Both he and Maynard are Democrats.