Thomas M. Smith and Daniel Ray Fordyce were both denied a reduction in sentence by Judge Mark A. Karl on Feb. 21 in Wetzel County Circuit Court.
Smith, 23, of 20 Steelton Street, New Martinsville, was originally sentenced on Sept. 17, 2010, to one to 15 years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men for one count felony offense of nighttime burglary. This sentence was suspended and Smith was instead ordered to attend the Anthony Center for Youthful Offenders. After completion of this program, Smith was placed on two years of supervised probation on Aug. 16, 2011.
On Sept. 21, 2013, Smith pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with the felony offense of forgery. Because he had broken the rules of probation with this charge, his original sentence of one to 15 years was reinstated, along with an additional one to 10 years for forgery.
On Friday, Smith stated he had served 30 months of his sentence, and he admitted that he had a drug problem. Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught stated that authorities at the penitentiary had reported that Smith had been cooperative and well-behaved and had no write-ups. He was in the final phase of a drug-prevention program, as well. Haught reported that he felt Smith should remain in prison until he sees the parole board in May. This would give him time to complete the drug program.
Smith's attorney, Brent Clyburn, argued that his client had been doing what he needs to do.
Judge Karl then asked the county's chief probation officer, John D. Lantz, if he had any thoughts on the matter.
"I have lots of thoughts of people going to prison and filing Rule 35s," Lantz stated. He noted that the parole board is made up of individuals appointed specifically by the governor and that applications for reduction in sentence increase paperwork. "This additional burden also makes probation caseloads even more difficult to supervise."
"I just feel that inmates who are a few months before seeing the parole board, should have their case heard by the applicable process of a parole hearing. They are the ones who know the most about the inmate's behavior while incarcerated."
Lantz later stated the following: "When people are sentenced to prison time, they often get in there and think, I can file a Rule 35 and put the onus on this court, instead of doing what they can do such as no write ups, taking required classes, and being a model inmate for the eyes of the parole board."
Friday in court, Lantz stated that in terms of Smith's case, "I worry and fear he will get involved in the same lifestyle."
"I'm not sure we got your attention," Judge Karl stated to Smith before denying the request for a Rule 35. The judge then set a return date for May 15.
Daniel Ray Fordyce, 34, was also denied a request for reduction in sentence. On May 8, 2013, Fordyce was sentenced by Judge Mark A. Karl to one to three years in prison for attempted transfer or delivery of stolen property.
Prosecuting Attorney Haught noted that the state had not changed their opinion on the matter, that Fordyce should remain imprisoned.
A return date was set for May 15.