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Defendants Return To Court On Docket Day

By Staff | Jan 25, 2012

Nineteen cases filled the criminal docket as many appeared for the January Term’s Docket Day in Wetzel County Circuit Court on Jan. 18 as Judge Mark A. Karl presided over the hearings. Many of these cases will be revisited Feb. 10 at 10 a.m.

John Michael Howell, 43, of HC 61 Box 114, New Martinsville, appeared in circuit court alongside retained Attorney Keith Hart and co-counsel Stephen Herndon. It was learned both the defense and the state needed some time to file and respond to motions and as such the judge set a status conference to be held Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. to revisit matters. Howell was remanded to the Northern Regional Jail.

On Jan. 18, 2011, 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, 2010, 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 2010 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, 2010, Howell was found with scratches around his left eye, left side, and a bruise on his left arm.

Brandon Robert Harvey, 25, of 6326 Lee Creek Road, Belleville, W.Va., appeared for Docket Day, however his retained counsel, George Cosenza, was not present. As such the matter was reset for Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. Harvey was remanded to the NRJ.

On Sept. 14 Harvey entered a plea of innocence to his indictments of kidnapping and two counts of domestic battery.

According to the true bills handed down by grand jurors during their September 2011 grand jury session, count one details that between Aug. 19 and Aug. 20, 2011, in Wetzel County, Harvey allegedly committed the felony offense of kidnapping in that he unlawfully, intentionally, knowingly, and feloniously and by force, threat, duress, fraud, or enticement, took, confined, or enticed away a female without her consent, for the purpose of receiving and demanding a concession or advantage of any sort from the said victim.

Counts two and three of the indictment state that between the same dates as above, Harvey allegedly committed the misdemeanor offense of domestic battery in that he willfully, unlawfully, knowingly, intentionally, and feloniously made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the same female, his ex-girlfriend, by shoving her to the ground and striking her with his hands in New Martinsville.

Also during court proceedings some older cases resurfaced. Norman Albert Jackson, 35, of 1004 Fifth Street, Rear No. 3, Moundsville, was placed on parole for one year under the supervision of Adult Probation Officer John Lantz following his hearing on Jan. 18 wherein Lantz advised the state that Jackson had successfully completed his sentence of one to three years on home confinement.

In December 2010 Jackson was sentenced to one to three years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men with credit for two days served. However, Jackson was granted alternative sentencing in the form of home confinement under Lantz.

On Aug. 5 in Wetzel County Jackson allegedly drove a motor vehicle on Foundry Street in New Martinsville while under the influence of alcohol. Jackson was previously convicted of the offense of DUI in the Magistrate Court of Wetzel County on or about Aug. 30, 2002; in the Magistrate Court of Marshall County on or about Dec. 15, 2004; and in the Circuit Court of Marshall County on or about March 6, 2008.

Thomas E. Welch, 48, of 303 North Eighth Ave., Paden City, appeared in circuit court without counsel regarding an alleged probation violation. The judge temporarily appointed Jeremiah Gardner of the Public Defender Office and a return date was set for Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. Welch was remanded to the NRJ.

On July 16, 2009, Welch was sentenced to two to 10 years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men following his guilty pleas to counts one and two of his five-count indictment for offenses of a sexual assault nature. Welch, while pleading guilty to the lesser charges of sexual assault for both counts, stated he was “not admitting the guilt.”

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Welch was to register as a sexual offender for life and serve 10 years of supervised probation when released.

He was indicted in September 2006 for alleged incidents said to have occurred between July 4 and July 30, 2006. According to the plea agreement counts three, four, and five of sexual assault were dismissed. Counts one and two were changed from sexual assault to a charge of sexual abuse in the first degree.

Meanwhile, Larry Virgil Watson III, 19, of HC 61 Box 95 B, Littleton, appeared alongside Attorney David White who stated additional time was needed to file motions. A return date was set for Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. Watson’s bond continues.

On Jan. 17, 2011, Watson was handed a one-count indictment for the felony offense of manufacturing a controlled substance (marijuana) wherein on or about Sept. 27, 2010, in Wetzel County, he manufactured, by cultivation, marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance.

Timothy John Judge, 30, of P.O. Box 132, Friendly, appeared alongside Attorney Gardner wherein a return date to address motions was set for Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. Judge remains on bond.

Judge is charged with two counts of failure to update sex offender registry information in that allegedly between June 16 and July 14, in Wetzel County, he, being required to register as a sex offender for life, did knowingly, unlawfully, and feloniously fail to register or provide a change in information to the West Virginia State Police in Wetzel County by knowingly failing or refusing to report his move to a new address (count one) and knowingly failing or refusing to report a new vehicle or change in vehicle (count two).

In other matters, Charles Homer Derby Jr., 29, of P.O. Box 246, Littleton, will return to circuit court on Feb. 7 at 10 a.m. to possibly enter a plea. Following his brief hearing on Docket Day, Derby was remanded to the NRJ.

On Oct. 3, 2011, Derby remained silent as the court entered innocent pleas on his behalf to his two-count indictment for offenses said to have occurred on or about July 27, 2011, in Wetzel County.

Count one of his indictment states he allegedly committed the felony offense of malicious assault in that he maliciously, unlawfully, feloniously, and knowingly caused bodily injury to a man with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill the said victim by stabbing him with a knife.

Count two levies Derby with the misdemeanor offense of giving false information to the West Virginia State Police in that he unlawfully and knowingly gave false or misleading information to Senior Trooper F. L. Raynor, an officer of the state police, by denying to the officers that he was carrying a knife, when in fact, he did have a knife on his person.

Ciara Lynn Barnes, 19, of 202 Cherry Street, Woodsfield, is also presently reviewing a plea offer from the state and will return Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. She was remanded to the NRJ.

Relatedly, codefendant Allen G. Grayam, 23, of 537 Market Street, Clarington, is considering a plea offer from the state as well. He is scheduled to return to court Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. His bond continues.

In October 2011 both Barnes and Grayam entered innocent pleas to their two counts each of conspiracy to commit grand larceny and grand larceny for offenses said to have occurred on or about Aug. 3 at New Martinsville’s Walmart in Wetzel County.

These individuals, along with codefendants Gary Clark Grayam, 19, of 537 Market Street, Clarington, and Brooke Frances Strope, 20, of 533 Market Street, Clarington, were each handed two-count indictments charging them with one count each of the felony offenses of conspiracy to commit grand larceny, and grand larceny for allegedly conspiring amongst each-other to commit grand larceny, and for knowingly, intentionally, unlawfully, and feloniously stealing, taking, and carrying away goods having a cumulative value of more than $1,000 belonging to Walmart Store No. 2684 in New Martinsville with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of said goods.

It was learned during Docket Day that a sentencing hearing has been set in the case of Justin C. Riggs, 23, of 558 Kappel Street, New Martinsville, who will appear before Judge Karl in Marshall County Circuit Court on Feb. 1 at 10 a.m.

Following a strenuous two-day trial Nov. 14-15 in Marshall County, jurors found Riggs guilty of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury and malicious assault for inflicting injury to his month-old daughter, Sabrina, fracturing her skull and causing irreparable, life-long damage to her development.

On Jan. 26 Justin Riggs and codefendant Amanda D. Riggs, 23, of 558 Kappel Street, New Martinsville, entered innocent pleas to their two counts each of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury and malicious assault, felonious offenses said to have occurred on or about Feb. 18, 2010, in Wetzel County.

Amanda and Justin Riggs allegedly abused their minor child and caused bodily injury to their child with the intent to maim, disfigure, or kill, by inflicting injuries to the child’s skull.

On July 25, Amanda Riggs pleaded guilty to count one of the indictment via a plea agreement and was sentenced to two to 10 years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Women.

A hearing for Larry Eugene Jones Jr., 47, of 125 South Main Street, New Martinsville, has been reset for Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. as neither Special Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee nor the defense was able to appear for the scheduled hearing on Jan. 18.

On July 15, 2011, Judge Karl ordered Jones be committed to a mental facility to undergo competency restoration following a psychological evaluation from the Charleston Psychiatric Group, Inc.

During Jones’ hearing on July 15, 2011, Judge Karl upheld the opinions and recommendations of Rosemary L. Smith and Ralph S. Smith Jr., a psychologist and psychiatrist, respectively, who stated Jones was not competent to stand trial, but could be treated if referred to an appropriate facility.

Jones holds a one-count indictment for the felony offense of wanton endangerment involving a firearm wherein on or about Nov. 8, 2010, in Wetzel County Jones allegedly unlawfully, feloniously, and wantonly performed an act with a firearm which created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another. This charge was made following the testimony of Captain Michael J. Thomas of the New Martinsville Police Department before the grand jury on Jan. 17.

In addition to that incident, Jones was also charged with wanton endangerment following a police standoff on May 29 at his home. Police had arrived to serve Jones papers for a court appearance when he pointed a .22 caliber weapon at the officers. Later, Jones turned the gun onto himself, shooting himself in the stomach. Fortunately, no officers were hurt.

Lastly, it was learned in court that Kenneth Evan Powell Jr., 47, of 315 South Third Avenue, Paden City, will appear for a hearing in circuit court on March 16 at 10 a.m. to continue matters in his case.

On Feb. 18 Powell pleaded innocent to his one-count indictment for the felony offense of delivery of a controlled substance (marijuana) within 1,000 feet of a school.

As detailed in his indictment, on or about Oct. 21, 2010, in Wetzel County Powell allegedly, being 18 years of age or older, delivered marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance, within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising Paden City High School.