Brian Ray Blake was sentences on Dec. 16 to three to 10 years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men, as well as 30 days in the Northern Regional Jail for fleeing from an officer and driving under the influence.
However, these sentences were suspended, and Blake was placed on supervised probation for a period of four years; the four years could be shortened with good behavior.
The case was heard in Wetzel County Circuit Court by the Honorable Judge David W. Hummel. Attorney David C. White stated at the beginning of the hearing that he told Blake he could speak to the court to plead for a lesser sentence. However, White stated the defendant is "extremely introverted." He added that his client had already submitted $3,200 of the $5,800 which he owed for restitution and that Blake would have the additional funds within 30-60 days. These funds were then submitted, in court, to the Wetzel County Circuit Clerk for proper submittal. White further stated that Blake's employer was going to be in court today to testify on behalf of his employee, but was unable to leave work. White did submit a letter written by the employer.
Chief Probation Officer John D. Lantz stated that he had interviewed the defendant for pre-sentencing and that "In 21 years, I've never had a defendant as forthright . . . His LSCMI (part of pre-sentencing) was extremely low (for reoffending), and even though the offense is alcohol related, he has no history of drug use or alcohol use."
"In regard to his honesty," White stated, "during his arraignment he wanted to tell you at that point in time he was guilty. He felt he would be lying if he said otherwise.
"Your honor, I agreed to remain silent in this particular case," noted Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught. "What I will say, and I don't believe this violates my agreement with Mr. White, is that I appreciate the level of respect and remorse that this defendant has shown, as well as his cooperation with Mr. Lantz."
He added: "And when Mr. Lantz says what he says (about Blake), that is pretty positive, because I don't always hear positive things from Mr. Lantz."
"From what I know of this defendant, I would say this was extreme bad judgement that he exercised on that night . . . Of all the people I have had stand in front of me, he has shown probably the most respect and the most remorse for his offense. That goes a long way with me, your honor. I don't want this to happen again. I want him to make restitution in this particular case."
Haught added: "I'm not sure that in this particular case society would be served by his incarceration. Now, this is a serious offense, and when I say these things about him, I'm not minimizing that offense, and I don't want him to get the impression that I'm minimizing it. I will say I have been impressed by his level of remorse and also by his work ethic. He does not make that much money, and he's already tendered 10 percent of his year-to-date earnings. He also has family support, which is a very positive thing."
"I have no objection to this court coming up with some form of alternative sentencing that would allow him to continue to work and be a productive member of society," Haught stated.
White added that his client had immediately forfeited his driver's license and sold his truck. "He gets a ride back and forth to work," he explained.
Hummel sentenced Blake to the four years of probation and also ordered him to attend two AA meetings per week. He also ordered that an alcohol detection bracelet be applied to Blake, at Blake's expense.
Blake was indicted by the September 2013 grand jury with fleeing from an officer while driving under the influence, misdemeanor driving under the influence and destruction of property. Between March 8 and March 9, Blake intentionally fled from New Martinsville Police Department Patrolman David Howell and Captain Michael Thomas, even though they signaled for Blake to stop. Blake also allegedly struck a NMPD vehicle with the Chevy S-10 he was driving while he was fleeing from the officers.