Floyd Found Innocent Of Charge
A Smithfield man was found not guilty of one count of felony driving while his license was revoked for driving under the influence, third offense, in a jury trial held Oct. 10 in Wetzel County Circuit Court.
The charge alleged that on Dec. 22, 2007, Clark Henry Floyd II, 49, of Route 1, Box 55, drove a vehicle on W.Va. 20 in Smithfield while his license was revoked for DUI offenses. According to court records, previous convictions were in Wetzel County Magistrate Court on Aug. 14, 1996, and in Harrison County Magistrate Court on Sept. 14, 2004.
Public Defender Roger Weese argued that the state did not have conclusive evidence that Floyd was driving the car on the night in question. The jury agreed.
The state and defense presented differing accounts of the night in question, both calling witnesses to support their versions.
According to Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught, Wetzel County Sheriff’s Cpl M.L. Koontz was dispatched to Straight’s Grocery in Smithfield on the night in question because Jo Ann Straight was having an argument with Floyd over the price of beer.
According to Weese, Floyd and Straight were not arguing over the price of beer, but about a past bill Straight said was owed to the store. She denied that allegation on the stand, saying he has a bill at the store. However, she said the bill was not mentioned. “He has not offered me nothing on the bill for four years,” said Straight. “He came in smarting off about how much a bottle of beer cost.”
Koontz did not arrive at the store until after Floyd had left the scene. Straight said she saw Floyd drive a car away from the location.
Weese said his client had not had a valid driver’s license or owned a car for 20 years. “Evidence shows he knew the police were coming, so it’s unreasonable to think he would drive,” offered Weese.
The state’s evidence would include testimony from Amanda Haught and Tonya Murray to say they had ridden in that car driven by Floyd. Koontz was able to get statements from Haught and Murray based upon Straight telling him that they were in the car when Floyd left the grocery store.
However, when Straight was on the witness stand she said she didn’t see anyone else get in the car with Floyd. But she did testify to seeing Haught and Murray in the store and then outside talking to someone in the car.
Koontz said he does not know of any bad blood between Floyd and Straight, only hearing about it on the day of the trial.
The car in question was found by Koontz, wrecked along W.Va. 20 with Floyd standing beside it. However, the defendant said that his daughter, Carrie Riley, had been driving the car that evening and had gone to get help.
“She wasn’t at the scene,” said Haught. “She came later.”
Weese argued that since cellular phones don’t work in that area, Floyd couldn’t have called for help, asserting that Riley must have been at the scene of the accident previously. Koontz didn’t know how Floyd’s wife and daughter knew about the accident, but they arrived on the scene.
Riley arrived by driving a pick-up truck. She gave a statement saying she ran off the road with the car. “She said she swerved for some reason, maybe a rock in the road,” testified Koontz. He did mention that Floyd’s wife went over and talked to Riley before Koontz talked with her.
Based on Riley statement, Koontz charged her with driving a vehicle without a license and driving a vehicle without insurance. She was convicted of those charges in Wetzel County Magistrate Court.
“I couldn’t prove otherwise at that point,” said Koontz.
On cross examination, Haught asked Koontz, “You aren’t actually present at most crimes, correct?” The corporal said most charges are made from a review of testimony of witnesses.
“This is dead wrong,” said Weese of having two people convicted of driving the same car at the same time.
Perhaps the jury agreed as they voted to exonerate Floyd of the crime.