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Psychologist Says Harter Is Not Culpable

July 24, 2012
BY LAUREN RIGGS - Staff Writer ( , Wetzel Chronicle

Prosecuting Attorney Tim Haught informed the Wetzel County Circuit Court Wednesday that the state was moving to dismiss the charges against Ralph Duane Harter, without prejudice.

Tim Haught reconfirmed that the psychological evaluation Harter underwent was done by a psychologist jointly agreed upon by both the prosecution and defense. The psychological evaluation report indicated that Harter had stabilized and was competent to stand trial, but he was not criminally responsible for the crimes he had allegedly committed between Nov. 1 and 27, 2011. Despite the dismissal of the charges against Harter, the state is filing a civil commitment. This will seek to have Harter evaluated for in-patient treatment. Harter also remains on bond for crimes committed in Tyler County.

Harter had been given a five-count indictment for offenses alleged to have happened at various times in November.

Article Photos

Ralph Duane Harter

Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 27 Harter allegedly committed the offense of threat of terrorist act for threatening to commit a terrorist act, with the intent to commit the act by threatening to "take matter into his own hands" for what he believed to be the failure of the West Virginia State Police's Paden City Detachment, to investigate allegations of criminal activity on his real property. These findings were provided by the Charleston Psychiatric Group, specifically Doctors Ralph and Rosemary Smith.

Counts two through five are said to have occurred on or about Nov. 27 in Wetzel County. Count two charges him with retaliation against public employees by retaliating against public employees for the non-performance of an official duty by discharging a firearm into the rear of the building housing the West Virginia State Police-Paden City Detachment offices located near New Martinsville.

Counts three and four state Harter performed wanton endangerment involving a firearm for performing an act with a firearm which created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another by discharging a firearm into the rear of the same said building, thereby creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily harm to any persons inside the offices, anyone traveling on state Route 2 and anyone traveling on state Route 180.

Count five alleges he committed the offense of felony destruction of property for defacing the building housing the West Virginia State Police, Paden City Detachment offices, causing a loss in the value of the property in an amount exceeding $2,500 by discharging a firearm in the rear of the said building located in New Martinsville.

In another matter, in the case involving Joshua E. Mylar, it was stated that counsel would continue to seek a global resolution to both cases in Wetzel and Tyler counties. Mylar waived his rights to a speedy trial and a return date was set for Sept. 12, 10 a.m.

Mylar is charged with allegedly manufacturing a controlled substance in that he intentionally and unlawfully cultivated marijuana in Wetzel County.

Edward Daniel Warf, 20, of Route 1 Box 239 A, Middlebourne, appeared for an adjudicatory hearing on Wednesday, alongside his court-appointed attorney, Jeremiah Gardner, on allegations of a probation violation. It was stated that Warf had admitted breaking rules six and eight of probation, being that he moved from his place of residence without notifying his probation officer and he had also been caught with alcohol. Warf has been sentenced to an additional 30 days in prison and his probation has been extended for another year.

Warf was placed on two years supervised probation on Feb. 10, after Judge Mark Karl agreed to reduce his sentence. He was originally sentenced on Dec. 21, 2011, to the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men for a period of one to 10 years with credit for 131 days served. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the state dismissed the remaining counts against him. Those charges were felony grand larceny, misdemeanor destruction of property, felony entry of a building other than a dwelling, and misdemeanor petit larceny. The offenses were to have happened June 11-12 of 2011 against St. Paul's United Methodist Church and Days Gone By, both located in Paden City.

Also on Friday, a home confinement violation hearing was held in the case of Larry Eugene Jones, 47, of 125 South Main St., New Martinsville. Jones was placed on home confinement May 25 after pleading guilty to his one-count felony offense of wanton endangerment involving a firearm.

However, it was reported that on May 29 Jones was seen on Fourth Street in New Martinsville knocking on a a home's door in an attempt to speak with the woman who lived there. The woman later told Chief Probation Officer John Lantz that she had no desire to speak with Jones. Jones was also spotted several times driving through town in his motorized golf cart.

Lantz stated that at the time of the alleged violations, Jones was not being electronically monitored. He was told to remain at his residence until proper machinery could be installed at his home. Lantz states that he gave Jones permission to only go to Witschey's to get food and obtain the proper equipment to get his phone hooked up for the monitoring.

Special Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee stated he did not know why the rules of probation and confinement were "so hard" for Jones to follow, whereas Lantz said that he felt Jones was "right where he needs to be" now. Kevin Neiswonger, Jones' defense attorney in the case, stated that Jones' father had agreed that his son could stay with him in Cabell County and serve his home confinement there. Furbee responded that he would not resist this. Judge Karl, agreed, urging Jones to follow the rules of probation and home confinement, telling him that if he did not, he would "keep that orange suit on permanently."

Jones's initial charge stems from an incident that took place on Nov. 8, 2010, when Jones allegedly performed an act with a firearm which created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another. Jones admitted to committing this act, stating that the incident occurred after he attempted to repossess a car. Jones claims that after he was hit by a person, he pulled out his weapon. The prosecution states that a witness saw Jones point the 9mm handgun pistol at a man's head.

Justin Raymond Wyatt, 23, of 1000 Chapline Street, Wheeling, appeared in court for a reduction of sentence. It has been close to 15 months since Wyatt first began serving time and he has a child that is 16 months old, which Neiwswonger stated is motivation for Wyatt to stay out of trouble.

Prosecuting Attorney Tim Haught stated that although he was unaware of any recent write-ups, Wyatt is serving two consecutive sentences and has violated probation before. When he requested a sentence reduction in May, Haught said Wyatt had been given five days of lock-down at the NRJ. Also, based on his criminal record, he did not believe Wyatt should be released to probation. Karl agreed with this, stating, "Mr. Wyatt just hasn't gotten it yet." Karl said he would bring the issue back up in 60 days.

In September 2011 Wyatt was pleaded guilty to two counts of information of conspiracy to commit unlawful assault and was sentenced to West Virginia Penitentiary for Men to one to five years of each count to be served consecutively.

In the case involving Joseph Leroy Watson, 18, of Post Office Box 125, Littleton, it was stated that an offered plea was rejected and a resolution was not close. Still, Judge Karl decided to set a return date for July 31, noon.

Watson had been given a one-count indictment containing six charges, by the May grand jury. Watson was charged with nighttime burglary and first degree arson, in addition to three charges of domestic battery and one charge of battery. Watson allegedly entered and then set fire to the residence of Rose Watson on Feb. 15. Three counts of domestic battery stem from allegations that Watson willfully and unlawfully struck his aunt, brother, and girlfriend. The final charge of battery alleges that Watson struck Tiffany Garrison in the face at the residence of Rose Watson.



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