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Prosecutor in Hash case resigns after critical opinion

Culpeper County Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Close has announced he is resigning in the wake of harsh criticism from a federal judge of his handling of a capital murder case against a teenaged suspect.

U.S. District Judge James C. Turk criticized both Close and police detectives who prepared the case against Michael Wayne Hash, who was 15 when the victim, a Culpeper County woman, was slain in her home. In his Feb. 28 decision, Turk overturned the conviction and gave authorities six months to retry Hash.

After Turk’s ruling, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office said the state would not appeal. Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrogh was appointed special prosecutor to guide any further prosecution of Hash.

Monday, Close hand-delivered a letter to the Culpeper Star-Exponent stating he was resigning his elected office, effective today.

“It is not an easy decision,” the letter said. “My inclination is to fight back. But in the final analysis, I do not think a protracted battle is good for the office of commonwealth’s attorney or for Culpeper County.”

Close questioned the basis of a portion of Turk’s opinion, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Hash’s lawyers have asked a judge to allow Hash to be released while Morrogh reviews the case to consider further prosecution.

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