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Dotson Ordered To Serve Time In Prison

By Staff | Feb 17, 2016

Jonathan Douglas Dotson, 29, of New Martinsville, was ordered to serve an underlying one to five year prison sentence, after an adjudicatory hearing was held regarding probation violations.

The county’s chief probation officer, John D. Lantz, offered testimony in the matter on behalf of the state. Lantz stated that Dotson had violated probation by associating with another convicted felon, committing another crime, and failing to abstain from drugs. Lantz reported that surveillance video from a local grocery store showed Dotson in the company of a convicted felon.

Furthermore, in November 2015, Dotson had admitted to stealing a purse, even leading Lantz and Capt. Steve Kastigar, of the New Martinsville Police Department, to the location of the purse.

A subsequent search of Dotson’s vehicle, in which he was supposedly living in, yielded a marijuana pipe with residue, needles, and a spoon with a powder believed to be Subutex. Lantz noted that Dotson had admitted to using Subutex in the past.

Lantz added that Dotson did test positive for marijuana and Suboxone.

Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught inquired as to whether Dotson had pleaded guilty regarding the purse theft. Lantz answered that he did believe Dotson was convicted of the crime.

Haught asked if Lantz had alerted Dotson to the positive drug test. Lantz noted that he did not believe that he had personally spoken to Dotson about the results, but when Dotson was incarcerated on Nov. 18, 2015, he would have most likely been made aware of the results.

During his testimony, Lantz stated that Dotson had admitted to using Suboxone, had admitted to stealing the purse, and admitted that he was the individual in the surveillance video. However, Dotson had claimed he did not know that the person he was with was a convicted felon.

“Mr. Dotson was cooperative through the whole process … that’s about the only thing I can add,” Lantz remarked.

When questioned by Dotson’s defense, Kevin Neiswonger, Lantz was repeatedly asked about Dotson’s drug use. Neiswonger referenced monthly reports that individuals on probation are required to complete.

Neiswonger noted that since August 2015 Dotson had been reporting that he was consuming suboxone.

“Did (Dotson) indicate if he had a prescription for it?” Neiswonger asked, in which Lantz replied in the negative. Lantz, when asked, also stated that he did not follow-up on Dotson’s report of using suboxone.

“You never followed up with it and asked what the issue was, if he had a prescription or drug issue, and you just let it go,” Neiswonger remarked.

Lantz stated that it is the defendant’s job to provide a prescription, that it was not his (Lantz’s) responsibility to look for doctors’ prescriptions.

“(Regarding the monthly report), where it asks about problems throughout the month, (Dotson) wrote none. He has the opportunity when he comes in for his appointment to say if he has a problem. He can report that,” Lantz argued.

Lantz stated that he had no proof of Dotson’s drug usage, besides what Dotson would have written on the monthly form.

Neiswonger questioned Lantz regarding drug testing of Dotson. Lantz noted that he would have administered one drug test when Dotson had pleaded to stealing gasoline at Mayo’s Exxon in late 2014 or early 2015. Lantz stated that Dotson passed the test.

Cramer found that it could be proven that Dotson had violated the terms of probation in that he violated two terms of his probation – violating the law and possessing illegal drugs. Cramer said he could not find that Dotson had knowingly associated with a convicted felon, as there was no direct evidence to prove that Dotson knew the person he was with was a convicted felon.

Haught said the state’s recommendation was for Dotson’s original sentence to be imposed.

“His original offense was possession with intent to deliver marijuana. I believe it was a one to five year, in the penitentiary,” Haught said.

“This isn’t his first petit larceny,” Haught added. “He testified he stole some gasoline while on probation. In this case, he stole an indivdiual’s purse. It is a plain violation, and he should be remanded.”

Neiswonger argued that the facts scream that Dotson has a drug problem.

“This is where I’m saying that the system has failed,” Neiswonger stated. “It’s not Haught’s job to rehabilitate him. By putting defendants on probation, it’s giving them a chance to become a productive member of the community. It seems like we put them on probation, and we never follow up. What we seem to do is say ‘Alright, you are on probation.’ Thats not the way it is supposed to work. He admitted to using drugs. We put him on probation, and then what do we do? Nothing.”

Neiswonger argued that Dotson had admitted to using Suboxone, but “we do nothing.”

Haught argued that though he agrees people who have drug problems need treatment, what the court had not heard was how many times Dotson went to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

“I don’t think there was any evidence that he was seeking help. I’m not aware of any of that. To blame it on the probation office is wrong. It’s wrong to blame it on the system. These individuals who are using drugs have obligations,” Haught said.

He added, “What these individuals want to do is come in here and say the system has failed them. What really happened, is they have failed themselves. Now they are seeking to blame someone else.”

Haught added, “What happens, is you are never going to get over your drug problem. You are never going to get over your drug problem until you admit it is all your fault. You have a problem, and it’s all your fault,”

Judge Cramer then requested that Haught address the court and not Dotson.

“It’s not society’s fault he is using drugs. It is his fault,” Haught said. “I get pretty animated about it,” he admitted, “because we hear it in every case. A defendant will say ‘Society has failed me. My family has failed me. My education has failed me.'”

Cramer noted that when Dotson was originally indicted by the May 2014 Grand Jury, he was charged with three felonies – conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance (marijuana), delivery of a controlled narcotic substance (Percocet), and conspiracy to deliver a controlled narcotic substance (Percocet).

“You were facing 20 years in prison, and Mr. Neiswonger negotiated a plea bargain for you, which resulted in being convicted of one felony. Mr. Neiswonger did a fantastic job for you from day one. All we asked for you to do, when we put you on probation, is follow a few rules,” Cramer stated to Dotson.

“I know there are a dozen or so rules in terms of probation, but in my mind, there are two big ones: don’t commit anymore crimes and don’t use drugs. You violated both of those. I can’t reward you for violating the rules and stealing a purse. Either probation rules have consequences or they don’t,” Cramer added, prior to imposing the underlying one to five year sentence.

In another matter, on Feb. 11, Gavin Morris, 22, of New Martinsville, pleaded guilty Thursday, Feb. 11 to sexual assault in the third degree. A sentencing hearing will be held at 3 p.m., March 18

Morris admitted to the crime when pleading, stating that he had committed the act when he was over 18, while the victim was under 16.

Morris could receive one to five years in prison for the offense.

Also, Darren William Oliver will return to court 2:30 p.m., Feb. 19 after failing to appear in court with representation.

Oliver, 26, of 622 North Sixth Avenue, Paden City, was charged by the January 2016 Grand Jury with third offense DUI.

Previously, on Jan. 27, Oliver had stated that he had not had enough time to find an attorney, as he works six days a week.

On Feb. 11, Oliver said he does not have the money to pay an attorney.

“I think we have had this conversation once before,” Cramer stated to Oliver. Cramer urged Oliver to fill out a financial affidavit. He noted that if Oliver is not eligible, he needs to either hire a lawyer or appear Pro Se, without one.

Prosecutor Haught noted that sometimes, when defendants fill out a financial affidavit, they forget to fill out child support and other important expenses.

Oliver was advised to fill out all liabilities, in addition to income and assets.

In another matter, Marvin D. Highley, Jr., 22, of 702 Maple Avenue, New Martinsville alongside Attorney Brett Ferro, entered a not guilty plea to his indictment. He will return to court at 10 a.m., March 18.

Highley was charged with third offense domestic battery, to have occurred on or about June 10, 2015.

Highley was previously convicted of “domestic battery” in the Magistrate court of Wetzel County on or about December 7, 2011 and in the Magistrate Court of Wetzel County on or about July 25, 2012.