It appears as if the case involving John Michael Howell, 45, of HC 61 Box 114, New Martinsville, is on its way to trial as the Honorable Judge David W. Hummel ruled on Friday that Howell is legally competent.
Howell's attorney, Martin Sheehan, stated that he had received the results of the competency evaluation the day prior and the results indicated he was competent.
Hummel ordered that proposals from the state and defense be sent to him within two weeks, after which, a trial date is anticipated to be set.
On Jan. 18, 2011, Howell pleaded innocent to his four-count indictment charging him with felony offenses of a sexual and violent nature said to have occurred on or about Dec. 14, 2010, in Wetzel County.
Howell 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 allegedly committed against his wife. The two had been separated since August 2010 and have a child in common.
The case has been a long-winding one, as a number of matters have arisen during its duration. Howell has had approximately five other attorneys prior to his current counsel-Sheehan and Patricia Kurelac. Also, the case was also formerly presided by Judge Mark A. Karl, who recused himself in October 2013.
In another matter, Jahna Jo Watson, 21, of Littleton, has been released after serving 14 months in prison.
Watson was found guilty in March 2013 of two felony counts of delivery of marijuana.
Shirley Stanton, the mother of Watson's attorney, George Stanton, argued on behalf of Watson. Shirley Stanton stated that her son had been ill and was unable to make the court hearing. Shirley, however, is a member of the bar.
Prosecutor Haught did not argue against Watson's release, stating that he would leave the matter to the discretion of the court.
Watson stated that she had learned a lot in the past 14 months and that she did not like prison.
"How are you different now that I sentenced you for two consecutive terms?" Judge Hummel asked.
"I had a lot of time to think about it," Watson stated. She stated she would live with her mother.
When asked, Watson stated her plan was to "get out and take care of my children."
Hummel decided to place Watson on three years of probation and warned Watson that one of the terms of probation is that she could not be around any felons or individuals who have been indicted.
"What about my kid's dad?" Watson asked.
"Who is the baby daddy?" asked Hummel.
Watson pointed the individual out in court and stated that he would be living in the same household.
Hummel stated that he would leave the matter up to Chief Probation Officer John D. Lantz.