A man who won the right to withdraw guilty pleas in a 2001 rape and robbery case will stand trial for those charges on Tuesday.
Joseph Buffey, 34, spent nearly 14 years in prison for a crime he said he didn’t commit – the November 2001 rape and robbery of an 83-year-old woman. Buffey was originally sentenced to 40 years in prison, but he fought to prove his innocence with the help of the Innocence Project.
Another man, Adam Bowers, was convicted in May 2015 of two counts of first degree sexual assault, one count of burglary, and one count first degree robbery after DNA found at the crime scene matched his.
In November 2015, the West Virginia Supreme Court decided to allow Buffey to withdraw his guilty pleas on two counts of sexual assault and one count of robbery, which Buffey said he was pressured to enter by his attorney at the time. The court also found that the state failed to present DNA test results it received six weeks before Buffey’s 2002 plea hearing, which proved he did not rape the woman. Buffey’s attorney said if he had known those results were available, he never would have pressured his client to plead guilty.
Now, Buffey is facing charges in the case again after they were brought back up in Harrison County after his pleas were withdrawn. Because the original plea deal is no longer in play, Buffey will face one count of burglary, one count of first-degree robbery, five counts of first-degree sexual assault, one count of assault during the commission of a felony, and one count of kidnapping, which were the original charges he faced, according to Harrison County Prosecuting Attorney Rachel Romano.
According to Romano, Buffey was also indicted during the last term on a third-degree sexual assault charge stemming from an incident with a teenage girl in 2001 and for aiding and abetting breaking and entering and conspiracy charges in connection to a 2001 break-in at the Good Hope Animal Clinic. These charges were originally dismissed as part of Buffey’s original 2002 plea deal, Romano said. Buffey will face these charges separately in December.
Buffey was also arrested last week for passing a fraudulent $1,150.54 check on September 26 at the Kroger on West Pike Street in Clarksburg, Romano said. Buffey is charged with felony fraudulent schemes, which will also be handled separately.
After being released on home confinement following the withdrawal of his guilty pleas earlier this year, Buffey is back in jail on the fraudulent schemes charge.
Buffey’s trial in the 2001 rape and robbery case is set to begin Tuesday at 8:15 a.m. in front of Harrison County Circuit Judge John Marks.