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Arson Nets Three Years

By Staff | Nov 20, 2008

A New Martinsville man was sentenced to three years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men after pleading guilty to third-degree arson in Wetzel County Circuit Court Nov. 12.

Joshua Allen Dent, 21, of 525 Foundry Street, pleaded guilty to a one-count information charge of third-degree arson.

He admitted to setting fire to a 2003 Yamaha Warrior four-wheel all-terrain vehicle belonging to Okey Jones of 502 Foundry St., New Martinsville.

“I walked up to the four-wheeler, pushed it away from the house, cut the gas line, and caught it on fire,” Dent told the court. Prosecutor Tim Haught explained that in a confession Dent said he and Jones had been arguing for months.

The prosecutor also noted that Dent was cooperative with the investigating officer, admitting to the offense during a polygraph test before he was ever arrested, but after being Mirandized.

Dent was sentenced to three years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men with credit for 180 days served. He is to report to the Northern Regional Jail on Nov. 17 at 9 a.m. to be delivered to the Commissioner of Corrections.

Dent is currently serving two years probation from a case that involved 13 counts of third degree sexual assault which alleged he engaged in sexual intercourse or intrusion with person who was less than 16 years old and least four years younger than the defendant. The offenses reportedly occurred between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30, 2005.

Judge Mark Karl had placed Dent on two years probation on April 18, 2006, after he had completed a counseling program at the Anthony Center for Youthful Offenders.

Timothy Curtis Wilcox, 27, of P.O. Box 225, Pine Grove, appeared in court with his court appointed counsel, Jeremiah Gardner of the Public Defender Corporation. He had previously wanted to plead to two information charges of insurance fraud. A third charge of burning insured property is also involved in the case.

When he first appeared in court on Sept. 10, he was without counsel, but prepared to plea with an offer from Haught. However, Madden told Wilcox, “An uncounseled plea is frowned upon by our Supreme Court.” While counsel is not mandatory, trial judges must make it abundantly clear that a defendant is better off to have counsel.

Madden explained that if financially eligible, Wilcox could obtain a court appointed attorney. “I’d like to try that,” he said. “Right now I’m just living paycheck to paycheck.” After reviewing his finances, Gardner was appointed.

Gardner hasn’t had a chance to review all the nuances of the case with Wilcox and the defendant wants to negotiate further with the prosecutor.

The case was scheduled to return to court on Dec. 17 at 1:30 p.m.