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Hummel Hears Court Cases

By Staff | Aug 16, 2017

The trial date, involving Benjamin Dale Francis, 37, of New Martinsville, was vacated on Monday, Aug. 7 after Francis arrived late to court, dressed in improper attire.

Francis was placed in handcuffs, and after meeting with the state, his attorney, and Judge David W. Hummel, was remanded to jail. His bond was revoked.

Francis is facing a three-count indictment by the Wetzel County grand jury, charging him with delivery of a controlled narcotic substance (heroin), possession of a controlled narcotic substance (heroin) with intent to deliver, and conspiracy to deliver a controlled narcotic substance (heroin).

The trial has been rescheduled for Sept. 5.

In other matters, on Wednesday, Aug. 2, Howard Ray Starkey, 29, of 5436 North Fork Road, Pine Grove, W.Va., was sentenced to no less than 2 years, nor more than 20 years, by Judge Hummel for his part in a scheme to steal two side-by-sides, and for drug related activity.

Starkey, who had been indicted on five counts by the Wetzel County grand jury in May of this year, entered into a plea agreement with the state, whereby he pleaded guilty to three counts while having two counts dismissed.

He pleaded guilty to entering a building other than a dwelling, grand larceny and possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) with intent to deliver.

Prosecutor Tim Haught told the court the state would be able to show evidence that Starkey did in fact conspire and steal the side-by-sides in the North Fork area of Wetzel County, and he was in possession of Methamphetamine.

Starkey also admitted to the crimes, claiming he was very high on drugs (methamphetamine) and had been taking it for 30 straight days.

In exchange for his plea, the charges of conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine and another grand larceny charge were dismissed.

He was given 1-10 for grand larceny and 1-10 for entering a building other than a dwelling. The two sentences are to run consecutively and a 1-15 sentence for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver was imposed and is to run concurrently, for an effective sentence of 2-20 years. Starkey was given credit for time served, ordered to pay all costs of his prosecution and make restitution. He was immediately remanded to the department of corrections to begin serving his prison sentence.

Robert Leu Kernan, 38, of New Martinsville, was sentenced in May 2016 to a maximum sentence of one to five years for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, and he was later placed on probation.

Kernan appeared in court on Aug. 2 for a scheduled possible plea hearing. He had been charged with failure to appear on a felony bond from September 2016, after he missed a hearing date before Judge Jeffery Cramer.

Kernan, failed a drug test with the probation office and then never returned for probation appointments. A warrant was issued but he was never picked up until the bonding company was notified they would forfeit a $10,000 bond. He was then captured at his home and taken to jail.

On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to failure to appear (a felony) and was sentenced by Judge Hummel to finish his original sentence of 1-5, plus an additional 1-5 for the felony offense of failure to appear. The sentences are to run consecutively for an effectual sentence of 2-10 years.

Prior to sentencing, Kernan stated he had been the perfect probation person and had regularly showed up and never failed the drug test, but in late August, after getting back with his girlfriend and dealing with a lot of problems at his house, he failed to show up. He said he was sorry for causing the officers any problems and that he had bad things going on at his house.

At the hearing on Wednesday, Kernan claimed he had depression and anxiety and the jail was not letting him go to the doctor for treatment for shingles to his foot. Hummel had the guards check him and there was no sign of shingles. He was immediately remanded to the custody of the Department of Corrections to begin serving his prison sentence.

William Eric Daugherty, 21, of New Martinsville was in court on Aug. 2 for a motion to withdraw his felony conviction. Daugherty was part of a group of teenagers who ransacked Magnolia high school in June 2015. He pleaded guilty to the crimes of destruction of property and entering a building other than a dwelling, both felony offenses, on August 31, 2015. He spent some time in jail and was later released on probation.

He gave testimony on Wednesday that he has never missed a probation hearing and has always passed his drug test. He said he had successfully completed drug court and now has a job plus is enrolled at West Liberty University, where he is an above-average student.

The probation officers also testified on his behalf on Aug. 2, and Prosecutor Tim Haught spoke to the court about Daugherty’s chance for a fresh start in life. He said he believes everyone should get a second chance when they show they deserve it. He said he had no problem with it in this case.

Judge Hummel listened to the testimony and agreed, in this case, the defendant should be released from his felony convictions and allowed to start a new life, without having the charges hanging over his head.

Upon being released, Daugherty made a donation to the Magnolia band in the amount of $500.

Parisa Artees Smith, of Westersville, Ohio, was scheduled to be in court for a sentencing hearing. She is charged, along with two others, with attempting to fill a forged prescription at Rite-Aid in New Martinsville on November 5, 2016.

She was captured at the scene and taken to jail but later released on $20,000 bond. On Wednesday, Attorney Kevin Neiswonger told the court he didn’t know where his client was. Later it was learned she had an altercation with her mother in Ohio and wouldn’t be present in court.

Judge Hummel issued a capias warrant for her arrest.