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Judge keeps upcoming trial date for man accused in Charleston violent crime spree

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County circuit judge has for now decided to keep a murder trial on her docket for a March 2 start.

Joshua Drennen

Judge Jennifer Bailey decided during a pretrial hearing for Joshua Drennen Wednesday to keep the trial date even though what could be a key piece of evidence has yet to be completed.

The court is waiting on a mental evaluation report from Dr. David Clayman who examined Drennen.

Drennen, 28, was indicted on murder, robbery, malicious wounding and carjacking related charges following a violent crime spree that took place on Charleston’s West Side on Feb. 11, 2020.

He allegedly murdered Barbara Steele, 77, in her West Side home. Drennen then allegedly carjacked a vehicle at the nearby Walgreens parking lot. Police said he then attempted another carjacking before encountering Charleston Patrolman Terrence “Austin” Casto near the Washington Street Go-Mart. Drennen allegedly attacked Casto with a flat iron before Casto shot him.

Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Michelle Drummond told Bailey Wednesday Clayman is still in the process of conducting and completing his evaluation.

“We’re trying to be prepared by the trial date and doing everything we can but not having the report is out of our hands at this point,” Drummond said.

A forensic psychologist hired by the defense, Dr. Clifford Hudson, previously submitted a report saying Drennen was not criminally responsible for his actions. Bailey has not yet ruled on that report, which remains sealed.

Bailey said for now she’s keeping the March 2 trial date. She said more than 100 potential jurors have already returned questionnaires.

Drummond said the prosecution wants the case resolved.

“We understand the victims, the family of the victims, Mr. Sullivan and his client want to resolve this,” Drummond said.

Drennen is represented by John Sullivan of the Kanawha County Public Defender’s Office.