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Hummel Hears Arguments In Probation Case

December 31, 2013
BY LAUREN MATTHEWS - Staff Writer ( , Wetzel Chronicle

Matthew Myers appeared in Wetzel County Circuit Court on Dec. 16 on a petition that had been filed to revoke his probation.

The defendant had no court representation; however, Jeremiah Gardner stated that he had been Myers' attorney for the underlying charge. Myers agreed his financial situation had not changed since Gardner previously represented him; thus, Gardner was appointed.

Myers was previously convicted on November 16, 2010, of third degree sexual assault in two other cases and was sentenced to one to five years on both counts. These sentences were to run concurrently. The sentence was suspended though, and Myers was released on 10 years supervised release.

Article Photos

Matthew James Myers

The state's prosecuting attorney, Timothy Haught notified the Honorable Judge David W. Hummel that he had individuals from Charleston, W.Va., to testify against the defendant, since the case was set for preliminary hearing that day.

Donald Wayne King, supervising officer for the in-supervision office at Charleston, was the first to testify. He stated he knew of a registered sexual offender named Matthew James Myers and was able to identify Myers in the court room.

King stated that after being discharged from the West Virginia Division of Corrections, Myers moved to Charleston where he (King) had been supervising him for approximately one year. King testified that his last contact with Myers was around Oct. 11 was when he allowed Myers to go to Wetzel County to take care of some business.

King said Myers failed to return to Charleston and failed to update his registry as required. Furthermore, King stated that Myers failed to cooperate with his sexual abuse rehabilitation and counseling treatment and failed to pay for this mandated treatment.

King stated that after discovering these issues with Myers' probation, he contacted Wetzel County's Chief Probation Officer John D. Lantz and requested that a petition to revoke Myers' probation be filed. King said his next contact with Myers was Nov. 22 when Myers finally returned to Charleston via a Greyhound bus. King stated that Myers was detained and was taken to the state police office.

King stated that he spoke to Myers' frequently via phone; he stated Myers would notify him that he was on his way back to Charleston but would never return. King stated he urged Myers to contact the West Virginia State Police, specifically Corporal Abbess to find out what he should do regarding correcting his registry. However, Myers failed to do so.

Haught requested that a printed letter discharging Myers from the counseling center be marked as exhibit A.

King also testified that Myers had new criminal charges that were being eyed by the state police. King stated these charges were dismissed at the magistrate level, but he had since talked to the prosecuting attorney in Kanawha County and they might be reconsidered.

Corporal Richard Abbess was the next witness to testify on behalf of the state. Abbess stated he has been employed with the state police for over 23 years and his job involves verifying and registering sex offenders in Kanawha County.

Abbess stated he has had contact with Myers before and that last time Myers had updated his sex offender registry was on September 16, 2013.

Abbess stated that the fact Myers left Kanawha County on Oct. 10 and did not return would be in violation of his probation. He added that Myers had advised him via telephone that he (Myers) was in Wetzel County for court and would be back "in a few days . . . He never came back," Myers stated.

Abbess said that by law Myers has 10 business days to make any changes to his registry information. Abbess said that in his South Charleston State Police Detachment, he registers offenders on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. However he stated he would come in on a Tuesday or Thursday if need be. This would actually give offenders a bit longer to register.

Abbess testified to Attorney Gardner that Myers would have had to register again once he established a new residence. Abbess stated that Myers was actually dismissed from the homeless shelter in Charleston where he was staying, after not being there so many days. Thus, he was required to register a new residence. He also testified to Gardner that offenders are permitted 15 consecutive days for visiting, but after that period of time, the offender is required to register again and register their address as a mailing physical address or a visitors address.

Gardner argued that with the 15 consecutive days, as well as 10 business days, "You could be looking at an upwards of 30 days." However Abbess stated that that is Kanawha County's system and that Myers should've registered in Wetzel County if he was going to reside here.

During re-direct, Abbess told Haught that he was aware of the situation with Myers because he had talked to Supervisor King by telephone. He also agreed that even if someone is homeless, they are still required to register if they are a sex offender.

"So if I'm living at the park bench, I would have to register?" inquired Haught.

"Yes," Abbess agreed. "You would have to register. We will get the GPS coordinates and record those as your residence," Abbess stated.

Abbess stated that he also has several offenders who have registered under a visitor address, but he stated Myers never did this either. "He always provided the homeless shelter," Abbess stated.

Trooper Brock Chandler was the next to testify on behalf of the state. Chandler stated he had made contact with Myers on Nov. 22 when he was assisting the probation office in regards to arresting Myers. Chandler stated he arrested Myers at the Greyhound bus depot in Charleston.

After testimony, Judge Hummel stated he was going to incorporate King, Abbess, and Chandler's testimony into the record for the adjudicatory hearing, which has been set for Jan. 10, 9 a.m.



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