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Prosecutor working 'diligently' to decide whether to retry Michael Hash for 1996 murder.
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BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
Michael Hash and his family hope their next court date will be their last.
That appearance is set for Aug. 20, just eight days before Virginia must either recharge Hash in the 1996 killing of 74-year-old Thelma Scroggins or give him his unconditional freedom.
"We're working diligently toward that deadline," special prosecutor Ray Morrogh told Circuit Judge J.T. Swet on Monday.
Morrogh added that some crime-scene evidence has been tested, but results from a second lab are not yet complete.
Hash, then 19, was convicted in 2001 of shooting Scroggins almost execution-style in her Lignum home. He was 15 when the killing occurred.
Two other boys were also arrested in 2000 and charged in the July murder. A jury found Jason Kloby innocent, while Eric Weakley was
Hash, now 31, spent almost 12 years in prison before federal judge James C. Turk set aside his conviction Feb. 28, saying Culpeper authorities violated Hash's rights by not disclosing that the office of Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Close had made a deal with Paul Carter, a convicted felon and a known jailhouse snitch.
"Having reviewed the voluminous record in this case, the court is disturbed by the miscarriage of justice in this case and finds that Hash's trial is an example of an 'extreme malfunction' in the state criminal justice system," Turk wrote in his 64-page opinion.
That led to Close's resignation on March 12 and Hash's freedom on bail the next day.
Turk ordered that Hash either be charged again within six months or be set free.
Morrogh, who is commonwealth's attorney for Fairfax County, began conducting a new investigation into the Scroggins murder soon after he was appointed in early March. In May, he posted signs at the Lignum post office asking that anyone with information come forward.
Virtually no physical evidence--including the gun with which Scroggins was shot several times--was found at the crime scene in 1996. Her truck, which disappeared the night she was killed, was found in a secluded field by a hunter several weeks after the murder.
There were no fingerprints found either at the home or on the truck, according to court testimony.
Only Weakley's testimony directly tied the three boys to the crime.