Nobile Receives Two To Ten Years Sentence
Security was tight and the gallery packed for three hearings held Sept. 17 in Wetzel County Circuit Court. Emotions ran high as Judge Mark A. Karl sentenced Joseph Charles Nobile, Angela Kristy Blaniar, and Thomas M. Smith for their offenses.
Joseph “Joe” Charles Nobile, 54, of Crows Run, Reader, will spend the next two to 10 years in the West Virginia State Penitentiary for Men with credit for time served for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs causing death. Judge Karl denied the probation request filed Sept. 15 by Attorney Elmer Bowser Jr. and prefaced his ruling, stating “Not only did you take drugs and alcohol, but you provided them to her, too. This act is reprehensible and I see no redeeming qualities.”
The state called one witness to testify before sentencing: Diana McDiffitt, mother of the 17-year-old victim, Ariel Brianne Bradley.
McDiffitt showed the court Ariel’s picture and began reading out loud how Nobile’s acts have affected her life. McDiffitt began by saying she once thought the hardest thing she ever did was give birth naturally to her daughter, but learned all too soon she was wrong. McDiffitt welled up with tears as she described her daughter proudly, noting she was an honor roll student and worked full time and enjoyed her work. “Ariel will never get to experience going to college, marriage, or growing old with a family,” McDiffitt mourned. “Everything had been taken away from her.” McDiffitt then stated she herself was robbed of those events and experiences with Ariel’s untimely death. “There is no joy in my life,” she continued. “Everything that meant anything to me is gone.”
McDiffitt finished her statement by asking in despair, “How can a 54-year-old man be so cold and callous as to put his needs first than those of a 17-year-old girl?” She addressed Nobile personally, saying, “It makes me sick to my stomach knowing you had feelings for her. I pray this court will punish you by giving you the maximum sentence allowed by law.”
Wetzel County Prosecutor Tim Haught then addressed the court with his final argument before sentencing. Haught choked on his words as he shared with the court his experience from attending Ariel’s funeral. While there Haught was asked by a man why Joe Nobile wasn’t charged with murder. Haught answered by explaining the elements of murder and DUI resulting in death, the necessity of intent and malice, and other legal requirements. The gentleman replied to Haught, “I don’t understand the law. I only understand that this little girl is dead because of Joe Nobile. It might not be murder but the result is the same.”
Haught stated that sentiment stayed with him all through the case. “Mr. Nobile disregarded the safety of Bradley and everyone else on the highway that night,” Haught stated. “Society can’t tolerate drunk driving even when it doesn’t result in death. He was an adult who should have known better.”
Nobile was then given a chance to speak. “She was my best friend. I was wrong and made bad judgments. I can’t say how sorry I am. I can’t bring her back. I’m truly sorry.”
With little remorse, Judge Karl denied probation and sentenced Nobile to the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men. Additionally he was fined $1,000. Nobile was remanded to the Northern Regional Jail Division of Corrections to be transferred to the state penitentiary.
At about 5 a.m. May 9 the truck Nobile was driving went off of Wetzel-Tyler Ridge approximately eight miles from New Martinsville and four miles from Chiselfinger Ridge. The truck landed on its side after an approximately 25-foot drop, resulting in the death of 17-year-old Ariel Brianne Bradley of Reader, a passenger. She was pronounced dead at the scene when authorities arrived. The criminal complaint filed by Wetzel County Sheriff’s Deputy Rob Scott says Nobile had consumed Xanax and hydrocodone along with alcohol, something the drug packaging warns against.
Angela Kristy Higginbotham Morgan Blaniar, 28, of 80 Third Street, Shinnston, sobbed heavily as Judge Karl swiftly sentenced her to no less than one and no more than five years in the West Virginia State Penitentiary for Women for the felony offense of sexual assault in the third degree. Before sentencing Attorney Gardner noted to the court that his client had been hired Sept. 16 by McDonald’s as a manager. Judge Karl then remarked this was another troubling case for him, as in reviewing her criminal background he discovered Blaniar was on probation for a felony charge in Marion County at the time of her offenses in Wetzel County. She was remanded immediately and given credit 20 days time served. At her previous hearing Blaniar was given 20 days from Aug. 25 to register as a sex offender to the State Police Barracks in Harrison County.
The sentencing reflected the state’s recommendation stated Aug. 25. Also at the hearing on Aug. 25 the state further advised Blaniar be placed on 10 year’s supervised release, maintain her registry as a sex offender, pay all court costs, and make no contact with the victim. Pursuant to the plea agreement, counts two and three of her indictment are dismissed-sexual assault in the third degree and wanton endangerment involving a firearm.
Blaniar’s offenses are said to have occurred between Aug. 1-14, 2009, and on or about Aug. 25, 2009. Counts one and two charged Blaniar with the felony offense of sexual assault in the third degree in that she, being 16 years old or more, did engage in sexual intercourse or sexual intrusion with another person who was less than 16 years old and who was at least four years younger than the defendant and was not married to the defendant.
Count three charged Blaniar with the felony offense of wanton endangerment involving a firearm in that on or about Aug. 25, 2009, she did wantonly perform any act with a firearm which created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another when she allegedly pointed a firearm at the same minor child named in counts one and two of Blaniar’s indictment.
Lastly, Thomas M. Smith, 20, of 20 Steelton Street, New Martinsville, was sentenced to one to 15 years in the West Virginia State Penitentiary for Men for his one count felony offense of nighttime burglary. However, execution of the sentence was suspended and Smith was ordered to successfully complete the program at the Anthony Center for Youthful Offenders within six months to two years. He is also ordered to receive drug and alcohol treatment while at the center due to his stated use of marijuana and heroin. Following successful completion of the program Smith is ordered to two years supervised probation.
Smith remains on his bond until a space becomes available at the Anthony Center. During this time he is to report once a week to Adult Probation Officer John Lantz and is subject to random drug screening. Judge Karl issued a warning to Smith, stating if he did not successfully complete the program in any way, his original sentence would be imposed.
On Aug. 9 Smith pleaded guilty to count one of his indictment: felony nighttime burglary. Pursuant to his plea agreement, all other charges were dismissed, though he was ordered to pay restitution to Jennifer Butler for $1,000, the total amount of money stolen from her Jan. 19-22.