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Judge Revokes Dawson’s Probation

By Staff | Sep 16, 2009

Clair Phillip Dawson Jr.

BY TAMMY WAYMAN, Staff Writer

Standing before Judge David W. Hummel Jr. for his sentencing on Sept. 15 in the Wetzel County Circuit Court was Clair Phillip Dawson Jr., 25, of RD 2, Box 181B, New Martinsville.

But before his sentencing was rendered, his attorney Kevin Neiswonger, placed Dawson on the stand to answer questions from Neiswonger pertaining to the petition to revoke his probation. On March 9 he was found to be in possession of a total of 270 grams of marijuana, marijuana seeds, $400 in cash, two pipes, two rolls of plastic baggies, and two scales.

“Did you have marijuana?” ask Neiswonger. Dawson answered, “Yes.” Neiswonger then asked, “Were you selling it.” Dawson answered no and when on explaining that his girlfriend at that time had cancer and it was at the residence to help her with her ailment.

Dawson went on, stating that he kept it hidden in the woods at his residence and only went and got a bag of it when his girlfriend needed to smoke it.

“I wasn’t smoking it,” Dawson told the courtroom. He explained there was many bags in the house because he didn’t take them back to the woods.

“How many drug tests did you have while on probation?” Neiswonger asked Dawson, “Five or six, I didn’t smoke the marijuana,” replied Dawson, noting he passed drug testing conducted by his probation officer.

Neiswonger brought to the court’s attention that Dawson knew it was against his probation rules to have the marijuana, but he was helping his girlfriend with her cancer symptoms. He further explained that he was close to his probation ending and he had passed all of his drug testing.

Continuing on asking questions, Neiswonger brought up the subject of his children. Dawson replied that they really miss him since he has been incarcerated and his mother is ill.

Neiswonger asked Hummel for a sentence of home confinement to be with his children.

Prosecutor Tim Haught then told the courtroom an individual’s statement lead to the search of Dawson’s home. “We have substantial quantity of marijuana, scales, and other materials, Mr. Dawson is doing the Sam’s Club defense, I buy it in bulk, and then saying it’s for personal use,” he continued. “He has a criminal history.”

Haught then talked of past crimes by Dawson. “He said, I messed up, I got caught,” Haught pertaining to a statement Dawson made in a past court appearance.

Neiswonger then told the courtroom, “We can debate about this all day, we all know marijuana is illegal, his family is not minimizing what happened here. We have a testimony of a deputy of the sheriff’s department, but we never heard from the witness who said he bought marijuana from him.”

Judge Hummel then reminded Dawson that he did plead guilty with a Alfred plea. “You are a convicted felon, this is your second conviction,” said Hummel.

He told Dawson he did read all the heartfelt letters from his family that were submitted to him and recognized that, to some effect, “You were a law abiding citizen.” But Hummel went on explaining that there has to be some deterrent in society. Hummel pointed out in the courtroom that another person from the Northern Regional Jail was present and, “I did sentence him one to five years and he had no past criminal history.”

After noting this, Hummel sentenced Dawson to no less than one and no more than five years in the Men’s Penitentiary with credit for time served. Hummel asked about the $400 of cash seized during the arrest and if it could go to the children, but Haught reminded the judge it was forfeited to the state in accordance with the plea agreement.