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Spears Seeks Sentence Reduction

By Staff | Aug 24, 2011

Eric John Spears

BY MIRANDA STOKES

Staff Writer

Eric John Spears, 27, of HC 62, Box PP, Pine Grove, appeared before Judge Mark A. Karl in Wetzel County Circuit Court on Aug. 19 on a Rule 35 sentence modification motion. Following four months of incarceration on a second degree sexual assault charge, Spears was permitted to address the court in hopes of garnering alternative sentencing. Judge Karl heard testimony from Spears and his wife, as well as arguments from Defense Attorney Roger Weese and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Carl “Worthy” Paul. Karl said he would take Spears’ request under careful consideration. Spears was remanded to the Northern Regional Jail and will return Sept. 1 at 1:30 p.m.

Attorney Weese stated his client had served four months of his 10-25-year sentence without any write-ups or violations, emphasizing he was a model inmate who admitted his wrongdoing. “He has been extremely remorseful,” Weese reiterated. “Not to say he shouldn’t be punished,” Weese noted, but Weese strongly felt an alternative sentence such as home confinement could benefit everyone, underlining the costs of incarceration to taxpayers and the fact that Spears was desperately needed at home.

In fact, it was learned that Spears’ wife had given birth to another child just seven weeks ago and Spears had only held his newborn for five minutes thus far. “If this sentence continues, the baby will grow up without a father,” Weese lamented.

Weese then called Spears’ wife, Sarah Spears, to testify. She told the court the whole family has been affected by the case. She stated the couple’s four-year-old cries daily for her father and fears losing her mother, as well. This circumstance adds to Sarah’s inability to leave home to work. Consequently, she went on to say the family can’t afford anything under the present circumstances. In dealing with so much strife, Sarah shared with the court that she has been under great stress and was resolved that her stress level led to her newborn’s premature birth.

Sarah concluded in pleading for the court to grant her husband home confinement, “I beg you, please let him come home. We need him.”

Attorney Paul was skeptical that Eric Spears could be the newborn’s father, given the fact the couple has been separated for the past 11 months. However, Sarah assured the court that though the two were not living together, they had been in contact during their separation and Eric was in fact the baby’s father.

Following Sarah’s testimony, the judge permitted Eric Spears to address the court. Choking on his tears, Eric stated he missed his family very much and wanted to be there for them. “I never wanted to hurt nobody,” he stated repeatedly. “I feel so sorry for what I’ve done; I never meant to harm a soul and never will.” He went on to tell the judge, “I’m a good person, sir. I’m gonna do everything possible to help everyone.”

“Are you sorry you got caught?” Judge Karl bluntly asked the defendant. “I knew it was wrong, sir,” replied Eric as he explained to the court that he told the victim “No” after the first time and said the victim was the one who wanted to continue. Judge Karl asked how many times the offense occurred, to which Eric answered there were two different occasions. “You knew it was wrong the first time, but you went back a second time?” the judge snapped. “Yes, sir,” was all Eric could say.

While the judge stated he felt badly for the family and their situation, he spoke sternly to the defendant, “I have a responsibility to the community,” Judge Karl began. “If I put you on probation or alternative sentencing, it gives the message that it’s okay to have a 25-year-old have sex with a 14-year-old.”

At that point Attorney Paul could hold back no longer, saying, “I’m a patient man, but I can’t tolerate this.” Directing his statement toward Eric Spears, Paul resolved, “He put his family in this position, she (the victim) didn’t.” Paul underlined his extreme opposition to any alternative sentence or modification before Judge Karl ruled to have the matter return in two weeks.

On March 21 Eric Spears was sentenced to 10-25 years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men with credit for time served. On Feb. 9 he pleaded guilty to count three of his six-count indictment, that being sexual assault in the second degree. As his original sentence entails, following his release Spears is to be placed on 50 years supervised probation and must update his sex offender registry with the police. Spears was also ordered to have no contact with the victim in the case and pay the victim’s counseling fees. Per the plea agreement, the remaining five counts of Spears’ indictments were dismissed.

All six counts against Spears were to have occurred in the summer of 2009 in Wetzel County. Counts one and three charge Spears with the felony offense of sexual assault in the second degree. Count one alleges he engaged in sexual intrusion with a female. Count three alleges he engaged in sexual intercourse with the same minor, without her consent. Count five of the indictment charges Spears with the felony offense of sexual assault in the first degree in that he allegedly engaged in sexual contact with the same girl. Counts two, four, and six charge Spears with the felony offense of sexual abuse by a custodian in that he allegedly engaged in sexual intrusion and sexual contact with the same female child under his care, custody, or control.