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1%er News:

Craig Newcomer's pretrial conference is Friday for West Virginia bar fight charges

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Avengers MC

BY: BETH ANNE HEESEN
Source: Public Opinion

Martinsburg, WV - CHAMBERSBURG -- A Waynesboro Borough Council member accused of seriously injuring a man during a February 2011 bar fight in West Virginia is to attend a pre-trial court conference Friday in preparation for his upcoming trial.

Craig Newcomer, 47 -- a man known for his charity work in Franklin County -- is charged with malicious assault and conspiracy to commit malicious assault.

"The whole case is based on hearsay," Newcomer said during a phone interview Thursday. "I feel confident because God knows what happened."

Newcomer allegedly punched Virginia resident Ernest Cumbie, 45, in the face Feb. 13, 2011 at Dirty Dawg Saloon in Martinsburg, W. Va. Cumbie was flown to a Virginia hospital with injuries that included facial fractures and severe brain bruising.

Newcomer stepped down from his position as Waynesboro Borough council president shortly after he was charged, but continues to serve as a regular council member.

His trial is set to begin Aug. 14 in Berkely County Court, Martinsburg, W. Va.

Newcomer said there's a good chance the trial will never happen, confident that the prosecution has "nothing."

"Not one witness of the 60 people there saw me do anything," he said.

Newcomer is looking for a full acquittal, saying he's innocent and will accept no plea bargain.

Alexa O'Connell, co-owner of the Dirty Dawg, told Public Opinion last year that she's heard about the good work Newcomer has done, but that makes no difference.

"To us, he's a criminal," she said.

Newcomer is being jointly prosecuted with Benjamin "4th Grade" Bean, 36, Sharpsburg, Md., who is accused of providing false information to police in the same incident.

Newcomer and Bean were at the Dirty Dawg for a Valentine's Day party with Newcomer's fiancé and two other men. Newcomer and Bean were identified as members of the Avengers Motorcycle Club.

Newcomer previously told Public Opinion that he rides a Harley-Davidson and associated with the Avengers to teach bikers about God.

"What you have is an officer (of the law) who was overzealous in trying to make this about a motorcycle club," Newcomer said. The federal government removed the Avengers from a gang list in the 1980s, he said.

Newcomer said 40 people were involved in the bar fight. Martinsburg police officers made it look like only two participated, he alleges.

"There's a very good chance that the person who was coming after me that I struck back was not the person who was injured," he said.

Newcomer's attorney Daniel James and prosecuting attorney Pamela Jean Games-Neely could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Newcomer is involved with Chambersburg-based Maranatha Ministries and runs the Candleheart program, which provides food, counseling and transitional housing for those in need. He remains free on $50,000 bail.

----------------- Beth Anne Heesen can be reached at 262-4754 or baheesen@publicopinionnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @baheesenPO.

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Posted on 8/3/2012 4:19 PM | 1%er News
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