CRIME

Peter Lizon's lawyer: W.Va. man denies enslaving, torturing wife

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The complaint says investigators confirmed that the wife was treated in the emergency room of St. Joseph's Hospital in June and that photographs were taken at the shelter to document her injuries. A Sunbeam iron was among the items seized during a July 5 search of the couple's home. Lizon was arrested that day.

Peter Lizon. Photo: AP/South Central Regional Jail, Charleston, W.Va.

At the couple's house down a narrow gravel road in a hollow in Leroy, about an hour north of Charleston, chickens and young turkeys roamed freely and goats ate away at grass in the back yard of their wood-sided house with a metal roof.

Only a handful of houses dot the side of the approximately 2-mile road, and nobody answered the door at a neighbor's home. In the front yard, signs read "No Trespassing" and "Guard Dog on Duty," although no dog could be seen.

One of two brightly colored barrels was filled with dozens of empty bottles of imported beer near a black van with no license plate.

Cliff Boggess, 62, has lived in the area since 2005 and rode his all-terrain vehicle past the home on Wednesday evening. He said he was shocked by the news and said he's never noticed any human activity at the house.

"Nothing. And I guarantee, that's the same answer you'll get from everybody around here," Boggess said. "This guy, whoever he (is), I've never seen him."

Nearby, screen doors were open and music could be heard coming from inside.

A mile up the road, choir practice was in full swing at the Meadow Dale Baptist Church, which only a few days earlier had gotten its electricity back from the June 29 storms that hit much of the state.

The church's sign reads, "God cares for us in all of life's storms." Pastor Mike King said he had just taken over at the church in May. The only news he heard about Lizon was from what he heard on television.

Both Peter and Stephanie Lizon were arrested in Maryland in 2004, accused of cutting up Bush-Cheney campaign signs with a bayonet. The couple was apparently living in Randallstown, Md., at the time.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Peter Lizon was sentenced to a year of probation and 32 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $328 in restitution to the Howard County Republican Party.

Wayne Kirwan, a spokesman for the Howard County state's attorney's office, said Stephanie Lizon entered a plea agreement that resulted in 40 hours of community service, plus restitution and fines.

Kirwan said Maryland court records also show that Stephanie Lizon was arrested on drug charges a few months later in Baltimore County, in December 2004. She pleaded guilty to a drug manufacturing and distribution charge in May 2005 and got probation.

The West Virginia Division of Corrections said it had no history of criminal actions by either spouse, and Boggs said the sheriff's department had no previous contact with them, either.

Boggs said he hoped that the wife's escape would give courage to other people who may be trapped in abusive relationships.

"There's all kinds of people out there who are willing to help," he said.

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