Leek Pleads Guilty
Steven Lee Leek, 42, of 168 Vine St., New Martinsville, pleaded guilty of felony delivery of a controlled substance (marijuana) and three misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child in Wetzel County Circuit Court on March 23.
All of the alleged events are to have occurred on Nov. 2, 2008. The subject Leek was supposedly delivering marijuana to was under 18 years of age at the time. The misdemeanor counts were for allegedly providing non-intoxicating beer to a 10-year-old and an 11-year-old child, and also for allegedly providing marijuana to the 11-year-old child.
For the felony, Judge David W. Hummel Jr. sentenced Leek to one to five years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men with credit for time served, 142 days in the Northern Regional Jail. For each of the misdemeanor counts he was sentenced to one to five years in the NRJ to be served concurrently with the penitentiary sentence. “That takes the county off the bill for the incarceration,” noted Hummel. Also, Leek must pay all costs of prosecution including court appointed attorney fees.
Prosecuting Attorney Tim Haught said Leek has a history of involvement with minors. “I wish I could have filed a recidivist (information) on him, but I don’t think there’s case law to support it,” said Haught. The state has a lifetime recidivist statute that would dictate a lifetime sentence, but it requires repeated violation of a violent felony, something Haught said wasn’t present in this case.
However, Haught said he believed Leek would qualify for a lesser recidivist designation that would double the minimum sentence. But that will already take place in Leek’s case as he was a person over 21 years of age delivering a controlled substance to a child under 18 years of age.
“In all likelihood, it is the state’s opinion that he’ll have to max his sentence out at two-and-a-half years,” said Haught. Given the age difference between Leek and the victims, the minimum sentence will be two years, at which time he would be eligible for parole. With indeterminate sentencing, such as one to five years, the maximum sentence, assuming no in-prison violations, is half of the longest time period, or two-and-a-half years for Leek.
Hummel noted that paperwork from Leek indicated he cannot control his drug or alcohol use, but he does not request treatment as part of his sentence. “That’s one of the many reasons we would not recommend probation for Mr. Leek,” said Haught.
Also present in the courtroom that day was Mitchell Lee Erb, 22, of 1004 Grandview Ave., New Matamoras. The execution of a plea agreement was anticipated in court March 23, but Erb had declined the offer.
Erb is charged with felony nighttime burglary that occurred on or about Nov. 26, 2008, by allegedly entering without breaking into a dwelling of Jonathan Dotson and Joseph Lasure, located on Piney Ridge Road near Reader. On Dec. 6, he allegedly committed a felony of nighttime burglary by entering the residence of Ronald A. Morgan Sr. located near Pine Grove. The count alleged Erb also did steal, take, and carry away a 1995 Ford Explorer having a value of more than $1,000 belonging to Deborah J. Morgan with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of said motor vehicle.
Defense Attorney Kevin Neiswonger recently realized he had previously represented a witness to one of these charges, creating a conflict of interest. Judge Hummel appointed Attorney Thomas White to represent Erb. The previously set trial date of March 25 was vacated and a new trial date was set for April 22.
Joseph Steven White, 27, of 326 North Seventh Ave., Paden City, was present in the courtroom Monday. White was charge with driving under the influence of alcohol on Oct. 19, 2008. White also has a past history of DUIs on Nov. 21, 2000, and on Feb. 28, 2007. Neiswonger said there have been some plea discussions between he and Haught, but he requested some more time to review the case and continue discussions. A trail date of April 27 was set with a mandatory status conference and motions hearing on April 22 at 10:30 a.m.
The case of Herbert C. Rice, 49, of HC 61, Box 53, Knob Fork, was continued until May 13 at 9 a.m. for a status conference. Rice was indicted in May 2007 on one count first degree sexual assault involving a child, one count first degree sexual abuse, one count incest, and one count sexual abuse by custodian.
He is also facing charges in Berkley County and the local court wants to wait until that issue is resolved before proceeding. The trial in Martinsburg, W.Va., is set for mid-June.
John Edward Wright III, 28, of 609 East Main St. Mannington, W.Va., did not show up for his court date of March 23. Wright was charged for felony DUI, third or subsequent offense, and the misdemeanor offense of driving while license revoked for DUI, second offense. On Nov. 15, 2008, Wright allegedly drove a motor vehicle on state Route 7 near Burton while under the influence of alcohol and while his license was revoked for DUI. He was previously convicted of DUI in Marion County Magistrate Court on Feb. 4, 2003; May 23, 2003; and Nov. 23, 2005. On Nov. 23, 2005, Wright was convicted of driving on a license suspended for DUI in Marion County Magistrate Court.
Defense Attorney Jeremiah Gardner said he spoke with Wright on the telephone prior to appearing in court. “He did not know that he had a hearing today,” said Gardner, who also noted his client had failed to meet with him as scheduled the previous week.
A return date of April 22 at 10:30 a.m. was set, but before he can enter a plea, as expected on April 22, he is to meet with Probation Officer John Lantz on or before April 10. If he does not meet the April 10 deadline, Hummel said a capias warrant will be issued.