FAIRMONT — The Marion County Commission welcomed a new county assistant prosecutor while saying farewell to a current one Wednesday.
At the commission meeting, the commissioners accepted the resignation of assistant prosecutor Robert J. Peters and hired Krista Marinaro as a new full-time assistant prosecutor, with benefits, effective Jan. 3.
When asked for comment, Peters said he has accepted a position as senior cyber and economic crime attorney at the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), where his focus will be the development and nationwide presentation of prosecution and law enforcement training.
“It has been a privilege to represent the State of West Virginia through the Marion County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office,” he said. “I am grateful to (prosecuting attorney) Jeffrey Freeman for both hiring me and trusting me with an important caseload.”
Peters is leaving his position soon with a big success at a jury trial.
Recently, it was announced that the trial team, led by Peters, successfully obtained a guilty verdict on all 24 felony sex crimes in the case of State v. James Hess. The jury convicted Hess on 12 counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, and 12 counts of sexual abuse by parent, guardian, custodian, or person in a position of trust, according to Freeman. He said the child victim in the case was eight at the time of the offenses, which spanned several months.
Peters said he will continue fighting for children in the future.
“The new position does not end my commitment to the children of Marion County, and I will continue working to enhance child protection and our systemic response to abuse through the S.H.I.E.L.D. Reporting Initiative that my team developed in partnership with stakeholder agencies,” he said. “If the broader public knew what we were dealing with on a daily basis, they would be both horrified and hopeful — horrified by the darkness (and how commonplace it is), but inspired by the incredible strength and resilience of child abuse victims. They are rays of light in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome them.”
“I am proud that my tenure both started (with Iran Glover) and ended (with James Hess) with the jury trial, conviction, and incarceration of those who sexually exploited little ones,” he said. “It was an honor to fight for children, whether through felony prosecution of abusers, or by seeking the best interests of youth on the juvenile docket.”
Freeman said he will miss Peters, noting he did “tremendous work.”
Although he was the juvenile prosecutor, Freeman noted that had aspirations to prosecute adult offenders and “didn’t just limit himself.”
“He asked to be involved in other cases, and sat as second chair and helped in a number of adult cases,” he said. Freeman added that Peters moved to acting as the lead prosecutor in the Hess case.
In addition to expressing his gratitude to Freeman, Peters said he was “indebted” to his fellow prosecutors and staff for their advice and assistance.
“Assistant Prosecutor Dennis Kittle and Victim Advocate Kim Hawkins are two of many who spent long hours with me preparing children for the grueling trial process and working with their families.”
Freeman said Peters was with the prosecutor’s office for more than a year.
Freeman, meanwhile, said Marinaro, of Morgantown, is licensed as an attorney in West Virginia and Ohio. She and her family have returned to West Virginia after she was working in Ohio, he said.
“She brings a terrific level of experience, overall, as well as in the exact position we’re hiring for, which is prosecutions of juvenile delinquency and status offenses,” he said.
Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549.