Judge Leaves Release To Parole Board
Justin Britton, 26, of Villa Apartments, D201, New Martinsville, was in Judge David Hummel Jr.’s courtroom Dec. 4 for a motion for sentence modification. Britton had entered a plea agreement to serve one to five years with the right to request a Rule 35 motion after serving one year.
Britton’s attorney, Kevin Neiswonger, stated that Britton had completed 22 separate courses and had received two positive letters acknowledging his good behavior. Britton had attended AA meetings and had been a very motivated individual. As Neiswonger put it, “He’s a write-up free model inmate.” Neiswonger further said, “In my 15 years of working with inmates, I’ve never seen an inmate make such a positive change in behavior. He’s bettered himself.”
Additionally, Britton is eligible for parole. Neiswonger said he felt such information means he should also be viable for probation.
Wetzel County Prosecutor Timothy Haught said, “I have no reason to question what’s been said. In this particular case Mr. Britton has been cooperative and even offered testimony. The state entered into a plea agreement because Britton was cooperative and interceded and potentially saved the victim’s life, however he was still criminally responsible and the state pursued the unlawful suit against him. The problem I have is that his agreement was to meet with the parole board and state the facts and circumstances that litigate this defendant’s culpability. It’s the parole board’s decision to parole and supervise. They will make a determination to parole in this case. My position is that I did not agree to a modification of sentence. I believe the parole board is the proper mechanism for handling this case.”
As Britton will meet with the parole board on Dec. 7, Judge Hummel agreed with Haught and ruled to let the parole board handle the next step. “I commend this gentleman for his behavior while an inmate, and I will take his case into consideration” said Hummel.
Britton had been sentenced to one to five years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men for unlawful assault after withdrawing his previous innocent plea to malicious wounding. He entered a guilty plea to a lesser included felony charge of unlawful assault. Britton was previously indicted on four counts: nighttime burglary, malicious wounding, assault during the commission of felony, and robbery in the first degree. The alleged events all occurred at the residence of Michael Anderson of North St., New Martinsville, on Jan. 27.
It was reported by Prosecutor Timothy Haught that in the early morning hours of Jan. 27, Britton, along with Timothy Lohri, who is serving a two to 10 year sentence in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men, entered the victim’s apartment to allegedly steal beer or to beat up Anderson because he called the police to report excessive noise. Britton allegedly held the victim down while his co-defendant, Lohri, began to beat him. Haught said Britton did intercede on behalf of Anderson.
According to the prosecutor, Britton did admit to going to the victim’s residence and he did admit to pulling Lohri off of Anderson. Essentially the state perceives Lohri as the principle participant in the offense and that Britton, the defendant, as an accessory.
Michael W. Winland, of 48013 State Route 556, Beallsville, was in Wetzel County Circuit Court last Friday for a mandatory status conference. In addition to his criminal case, a civil case has been filed. Winland agreed to waive resolution during this term of court to attempt to gain more information and develop facts. The next term of court begins Jan. 12. The court will address Winland’s two cases term by term as dictated by discovery.
At his last court appearance, Winland pleaded innocent to two separate one-count indictments. The first is felony obtaining money by false pretenses to have allegedly occurred between Nov. 7 and 21, 2007, by willfully, unlawfully, knowingly, and feloniously obtaining timber having a value of more than $1,000 from Jacob P. Morgan by falsely representing that he would harvest and sell the timber and pay a portion of the proceeds to Morgan.
The other indictment is also felony obtaining money by false pretenses to have allegedly occurred between Aug. 8 and Dec. 31, 2008. The scenario is the same as the first indictment, except the victim is Don VanDyke.
Linda Fordyce, 51, of P.O Box 195, Hundred, was offered a plea agreement by the state Friday, however she requested time to consider the offer and moved to waive resolution during this term of court. A trial date is set for Feb. 8 as case number one at 8:30 a.m. A mandatory status conference is set for Feb. 5 at 8:30 a.m. and all pre-trial documents must be received on or before Jan. 22.
Previously, Fordyce pleaded innocent to felony possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) with intent to deliver that allegedly occurred on July 21.
Kathleen A. Whitehair, 45, of HC 62 Box 67-A, Burton, requested additional matters of discovery at her hearing on Dec. 4. As the case is still in the preliminary phases, Whitehair waived term and her trial date is set for Feb. 8 as case number three with court beginning at 8:30 a.m. A mandatory status conference and motions hearing is set for Feb. 5 at 8:45 a.m. All pre-trial documents must be received on or before Jan. 22.
Whitehair pleaded innocent to a one-count indictment of felony delivery of a controlled substance (cocaine) that allegedly occurred on April 26.
Daniel Todd Hunter, 45, of HC 61 Box 99, Littleton, was also given a plea offer Friday in circuit court. Similarly, Hunter waived resolution during this term of court and a trial date is set for Feb. 10 as case number one. A mandatory status conference and motions hearing is set for Feb. 5 at 9 a.m. and all pre-trial documents must be received on or before Jan 22.
Hunter pleaded innocent to a two-count indictment. Count one is a felony offense of burglary that allegedly occurred in September 2008 in which Hunter broke into the residence of Peter Parker located near Littleton. Count two is grand larceny of $1,000 of goods belonging to Peter Parker.