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Plea Gets Welch Two To Ten Years

By Staff | Jul 22, 2009

Thomas E. Welch

One Wetzel County sexual offender will be doing time in the West Virginia Men’s Penitentiary and will be registered as a sexual offender for life.

Thomas E. Welch, 43, of 303 North Eighth Ave., Paden City, was sentenced to two to 10 years in the penitentiary, the result of a plea agreement.

The agreement was requested by Earl Bowers, guardian ad litem, representing the victim. Welch was indicted in September 2006 on five counts of a sexual assault involving a minor.

Judge David Hummel stated to the courtroom that according to the plea agreement, counts three, four, and five of sexual assault were dismissed. Counts one and two were changed from sexual assault to sexual abuse in the first degree.

Welch pleaded guilty to count one, sexual abuse, and guilty to count two, sexual abuse, both in the first degree.

According to the plea agreement, count one carries one to five years in the men’s penitentiary and count two will carry the same sentence, one to five years to be served, concurrently. He is to have no contact with the victim.

Hummel told the courtroom there was only one victim and he was represented in the courtroom by Bowers.

Prosecutor Tim Haught explained this will carry a total of two to ten years total for incarceration. The plea agreement was requested by Bowers, representing the victim.

Welch, while pleading guilty to the lesser charges of sexual assault for both counts, stated he was “not admitting the guilt.”

Welch did request, when done with his time of incarceration, that he be allowed to leave the state of West Virginia. Hummel stated the court would allow this, but he will have to register as a sexual offender in any other state and be on supervised probation for 10 years.

In another court matter, Mitchell Lee Erb, 22, of 1004 Grandview Ave., New Matamoras, was present from the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville. A plea agreement was reached in which Erb pleaded guilty to joyriding, third offense. Hummel sentenced Erb to no less than one and no more than three years in the West Virginia Men’s Penitentiary with credit for time served.

Haught told the courtroom the Erb had two other prior joyriding offense out of Wetzel County. He explained the incident on Dec. 6, 2008, involving Ronald and Deborah Morgan’s vehicle. Erb was driving their vehicle that contained their granddaughter. He was stopped and arrested in Marshall County.

Hummel did give Erb a chance to explain about the incident of the vehicle, “I did take control of the vehicle, but I did not go in the home and get the keys.”

Hummel asked Erb if he meant to deprive the Morgans of their vehicle. Erb replied, “No.”

“Is this rodeo over now?” Hummel asked, referring to the past joyriding incidents of Erb.

Hummel reminded Erb that he is to pay $140 in restitution to the victim and all court and attorney fees.

Clair Philip Dawson Jr., 25, of RD 2, Box 181B, New Martinsville, was present in the courtroom on a hearing regarding a petition to revoke his probation. On Oct. 2, 2007, Dawson was placed on three years probation after pleading guilty to two misdemeanors intimidation of a public employee and domestic battery.

On March 9, 2009, Dawson was arrested for having a total of 270 grams of marijuana, marijuana seeds, $400 in cash, two pipes, two rolls of plastic baggies, and two scales.

Investigating officer Deputy Rob Scott of the Wetzel County Sheriff’s office was not available in court due to being out of town on vacation.

Haught told the courtroom the justice lab report was back and they would like to continue when the witness, Deputy Scott, can be in court room. Hummel agreed and set the next court date of July 30 at 8:30 a.m.

Mikeal James Craft, 19, of P.O. Box 58, Wileyville, was before Judge Hummel to revoke his probation. Craft pleaded guilty to joyriding in 2008 and was placed on two years of supervised probation.

His attorney, Kevin Neiswonger, requested bond be set for Craft.

“He has made all of his court appearances,” Neiswonger stated.

Haught told the courtroom, “The problem is he has three alleged probation violations. He is continually digging himself a hole.” He also reported that Craft still needs to pay his restitution fee.

Hummel set his bond at $10,000 with home confinement at Craft’s own expense. He also stated that he will have supervision by Adult Probation Officer John Lantz.

Lantz reported that if he can not make the first month’s payment of home confinement, he will go back to the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville.

Hummel set his next court appearance for Aug. 4 at 8:30 a.m.