It is looking more and more as if preliminary hearings in the case of the State of West Virginia vs. John M. Howell will lead to trial.
Several previously filed motions were responded to in Thursday's session of Wetzel County Circuit Court, including as to whether or not photographs in question were considered "gruesome" and should be allowed to be shown in court. Judge Mark A. Karl responded that he did not believe the photos in question were gruesome and that he is inclined to allow them to be released. Also, counsel is allowed to look at Department of Health and Human Resources files with the judge, but overall Judge Karl believes they hold little relevance to the case. Karl does not believe that Howell and his ex-wife's divorce file is relevant to the case either; those files will not be used.
If a trial does in fact take place, it is likely to begin sometime in late summer as Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught requests that he will need to subpoena multiple experts, possibly some coming from out of state.
John M. Howell
Also at issue is whether or not the case can be tried locally, with a local jury. Because of this, Judge Karl requested that the prosecution and the defense get jury questionnaires to him by May 18 so that they will know early on whether or not the trial will need to be moved.
Howell, 44, of HC 61 Box 114, New Martinsville, faces one count each of the felony offenses of kidnapping, second degree attempted sexual assault, first degree sexual assault, and malicious assault (respective to counts one through four) for acts committed against his wife. The two had been separated since August 2010 and have a child in common.
He allegedly attacked the victim when she attempted to leave his residence after picking up the child. The victim was flown from Wetzel County Hospital to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. Upon his arrest the evening of Dec. 14, 2010, Howell was found with scratches around his left eye, left side, and a bruise on his left arm.
Howell is scheduled to return to court at 1:30 p.m. on June 13.
With the new term of court beginning Thursday, several defendants waved their right to a speedy trial in favor of returning to court next term.
Charles Robert Wells, 45, of 247 Lang Dr., New Martinsville, waived his right to a speedy trial. His case will continue until the next term; his bond will continue,
On Feb. 22 Wells pleaded innocent to his one-count felony charge of third-offense domestic battery. He is alleged to have struck his girlfriend in the face with his hand and kicked her in the ribs with his foot on Oct. 24, 2011.
Jeffrey Allen Dawson, 26, of Route 1, Box 16, Folsom, also appeared in court Thursday alongside Attorney Kevin Neiswonger. It was reported that a plea agreement appeared to be in the works and counsel, along with Dawson, were told to reappear Monday at 10 a.m.
Upon the return to court on Monday though, Neiswonger reported that he had some office related issues receiving Haught's portion of the agreement. Dawson then waived his right to a speedy trial in favor of returning to court on May 18.
Dawson had previously pleaded innocent to six counts of conspiracy and one count of second degree robbery. His bond had been revoked and he had been remanded to the Northern Regional Jail after allegedly committing a second crime while on bond. In March, he had been arrested on a petit larceny charge in Magistrate Court.
Dawson has been charged with feloniously conspiring to deliver hydrocodone, marijuana, oxycodone, adderall, alprazolam, and suboxone. His charge of second degree robbery stems from an incident where he allegedly removed money forcefully from Ciara Beisel on or about Dec. 30 in New Martinsville.