Charge against pipeline protester dropped, but case isn't closed
Stephanie Stallings came to the Roanoke County courthouse prepared for her trial,
"I would prefer the case be over with today," Stallings told WDBJ7.
But the prosecutor requested a continuance, telling the judge her office didn't know the case was set until Tuesday and didn't have time to call witnesses and gather all of the evidence.
"My client and I came all the way down from Floyd County to be present. We were prepared," said Stallings' attorney Jonathan Rogers. "There were a lot of people supporting her here, several witnesses here. And to me, the Commonwealth with all of its resources should be prepared for a case that's been pending for two months."
Stallings was arrested on April 11th on Bent Mountain.
She was with a group of protestors who gathered near the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and prevented crews from cutting trees on the property.
She was facing a misdemeanor charge of interfering with property rights.
"If they really look into the facts, she's absolutely innocent," Rogers said in an interview. "This is not a situation of she's not guilty. she's innocent of the charge."
Stallings has no regrets.
"It was important to me that I take a stand under a feeling of moral obligation to protect our water, to protect our land to protect our rights as citizens," she said after the hearing.
Judge Jacqueline Talevi denied the motion for a continuance, but agreed to drop the charge.
Rogers said he hopes prosecutors will conduct a thorough review of the case and decide not to try it again.
But right now, Commonwealth's Attorney Randy Leach says he intends to bring it back.