Defendants Enter New Term In Circuit Court
Defendants returned to Wetzel County Circuit Court on May 25 and May 27 to continue matters in their ongoing cases. Judge Mark A. Karl presided on Docket Day, May 11, wherein the return dates were set.
Attorney Keith Hart, retained counsel to John Michael Howell, 42, of HC 61 Box 114, New Martinsville, appeared alongside his client to hear Judge Karl’s ruling on motions recently filed to appoint co-counsel and a private investigator, and the submission of a jury questionnaire. Regarding the jury questionnaire Hart stated it was nearly complete for review and the state requested time to review the questions before filing a response. A return date to hear Judge Karl’s final rulings is set for June 8 at 10 a.m. Howell was remanded to the Northern Regional Jail.
At Howell’s hearing on Docket Day, Judge Karl granted the hiring of an independent investigator. At both hearings Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught stated he did not believe the defendant has the right to “shop for appointed counsel” in this case and hoped that if co-counsel was granted, that such counsel be appointed by the Public Defenders Corporation. “I realize the defendant is entitled to co-counsel,” Haught noted. “But not in requesting specific appointment.”
Attorney Hart responded, saying that in a case involving possible life in prison, co-counsel was appropriate, and that retaining co-counsel would save the state money.
“If anyone is going to be appointed, it’s going to be the Public Defenders Corporation,” said Judge Karl.
On Jan. 18 Howell pleaded innocent to his four-count indictment charging him with felony offenses of a sexual and violent nature said to have occurred on or about Dec. 14 in Wetzel County.
Howell faces one count each of the felony offenses of kidnapping, second degree attempted sexual assault, first degree sexual assault, and malicious assault (respective to counts one through four) for acts committed against his wife. The two had been separated since August and have a child in common.
Howell allegedly attacked the victim when she attempted to leave his residence after picking up the child. The victim was flown from Wetzel County Hospital to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. Upon his arrest the evening of Dec. 14, Howell was found with scratches around his left eye, left side, and a bruise on his left arm.
John Cody Postlethwait, 19, of 715 5th Street, New Martinsville, appeared in Wetzel County Circuit Court wherein a two-day trial was scheduled for June 28 at 9 a.m. His bond continues.
On Oct. 27 Postlethwait entered a plea of innocence to his three-count indictment charging him with offenses of a sexual nature wherein on or about Aug. 4, 2009, in Wetzel County he allegedly committed the felony offense sexual assault in the second degree (counts one and two) and sexual abuse in the first degree (count three).
Postlethwait is also facing court proceedings for a new charge this term of court. Details on his new charge are not available at this time.
Howard Ray Starkey, 23, of 1026 Third Street, New Martinsville, was in court to make a possible plea, however the state noted an error was made in the plea offer and time is needed to revise the agreement. With that, Judge Karl set a return date for June 8 at 10 a.m. Starkey’s bond continues.
Starkey received a four-count indictment for his offenses said to have occurred between Feb. 15 and March 24 in Wetzel County.
Counts one and three charge Starkey with the felony offense of burglary in that he allegedly entered the residence of Robert and Ruth Starkey located at HC 62, Box 40, Pine Grove, with the intent to commit a crime in two occurrences.
Counts two and four charge Starkey with the felony offense of grand larceny wherein he allegedly stole firearms having a cumulative value of more than $1,000 belonging to Robert Michael King at two separate occasions.
Randy L. Lewis, 22, of 325 Virginia Street, New Martinsville, appeared in Wetzel County Circuit Court on May 11 wherein it was learned that while he had been out on bond, he was recently placed in the Northern Regional Jail for a new charge. Lewis is being held in the NRJ and will return June 8 at 10 a.m.
Lewis is facing a one-count indictment wherein during the summer of 2008 in Wetzel County, Lewis allegedly committed the felony offense of sexual assault in the third degree in that he, being 16 years old or more, engaged in sexual intercourse with a female child who was not married to Lewis.
The details of the new charge against Lewis are unavailable at this time.
Roger Kent Boggess III, 21, of P.O. Box 227, Hundred, appeared in Wetzel County Circuit Court alongside Attorney Frederick Gardner to hear on the court’s ruling on two previously filed motions. Judge Karl stated he would rule on the matters June 17 at 10 a.m. Boggess’ bond continues.
On Jan. 26 Boggess remained silent as the court entered innocent pleas to his three-count indictment for his offenses said to have occurred on or about Oct. 1 in Wetzel County.
Count one charges Boggess with possession of marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance, with the intent to deliver the same; count two alleges Boggess possessed Hydrocodone, a Schedule III controlled substance, with the intent to deliver the same; and count three charges Boggess with possession of Oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance with the intent to deliver the same.
Paul William Derby, 27, of 416 Foundry Street, New Martinsville, has accepted a plea agreement and will return June 17 at 10 a.m. to enter a plea. His bond continues.
On Feb. 9 Derby pleaded innocent to his one-count indictment for delivery of a controlled substance (Hydrocodone). The indictment alleges that on or about Sept. 23, 2009, Derby delivered Hydrocodone, a Schedule III controlled substance, in Wetzel County.
Plea negotiations are still in the works for Stephanie Nicole Fox, 20, of HC 61 Box 95C, Littleton. Her attorney, Jeremiah Gardner, stated in court last Friday that he is still optimistic this case can be resolved. Judge Karl set a return date for June 17 at 10 a.m. Fox’s bond continues.
Meanwhile, co-defendant Larry Virgil Watson III, 18, of HC 61 Box 95 B, Littleton, will return to court June 8 at 10 a.m. to continue matters in his case.
Fox and Watson were handed a one-count indictment each for the felony offense of manufacturing a controlled substance (marijuana) wherein on or about Sept. 27 in Wetzel County the two allegedly manufactured, by cultivation, marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance.
Lastly, the state believes a plea agreement has been reached in the case of Curtis A. Lemasters, 25, of 215 Scott Place, Fairmont, and as such Lemasters will return on June 17 at 10 a.m. His bond continues.
Lemasters is charged with third offense driving on a license revoked for DUI (count one) wherein he operated a motor vehicle on state Route 7 and state Route 20, having previously been convicted of the offense of driving suspended/revoked for DUI in two cases in the Magistrate Court of Marion County on or about Aug. 5, 2008.
Lemasters is also charged with the felony offense of fleeing from an officer in a vehicle (count two) for allegedly fleeing from Deputy R. L. Scott Jr., who was acting in his official capacity as a Wetzel County Sheriff’s Deputy, after Deputy Scott had activated his blue lights and siren, and Lemasters operated his vehicle in a manner showing a reckless indifference to the safety of others by driving at high rates of speed while a pregnant female passenger was in his vehicle.
Lastly, Lemasters is charged with the felony offense of altering a distinguishing number for a motor vehicle in that he allegedly, with fraudulent intent, altered a distinguishing number, being a West Virginia registration plate, by placing on his motor vehicle a registration plate which he knew was not assigned to his motor vehicle.