Frankie Morris Jr., 23, of Mountainview Gardens, Waynesburg, Pa., pleaded guilty in Wetzel County Circuit Court Monday to misdemeanor transferring stolen goods.
He did this through a plea agreement the day his three-count indictment would have been heard in a jury trial. The May session of the grand jury had handed him a three-count indictment, charging him with felony burglary, misdemeanor petit larceny, and the transferring of stolen goods charge.
As is standard procedure, before accepting the plea Judge David W. Hummel went through a litany of questions to be sure the defendant was aware of his rights and competent to enter a guilty plea. When asked if he had taken any non-prescribed drugs in the past 60 days, Morris replied in the affirmative, stating he had taken percocet and vicodin by snorting them. "What is the allure of snorting?" asked Hummel. The defendant said it creates a burn and gets into his system more quickly.
Further questioning Morris' use of drugs, Hummel asked how he began his drug use. Morris said he had a dirt bike accident and was prescribed oxycontin and percocet. "After that is was just the thrill of the high?" asked Hummel. Morris agreed.
Morris said he was spending $300 per week on his habit. It was funded by a job he had that brought in that exact amount. "How do you put bread on the table?" asked Hummel. Morris replied that he goes to his mother's house to eat.
The charges allege that on or about Sept. 15, 2012, Morris unlawfully entered the house of the victim, stole a Bond Arms Model BACD Derringer and J.C. Higgins 12 gauge Bolt Action Shotgun, with a value of less than $1,000, and transferred the Bond Arms Model BACD Derringer to another individual.
Prosecutor Timothy Haught said the state's evidence, if it went to trial, would show that the victim, grandfather of the defendant's former girlfriend, had shown the pistol to the defendant. When the victim noticed it was missing, he contacted the West Virginia State Police. They discovered the third individual in the scenario had a pistol that matched the missing gun's description. He told police Morris had sold it to him for $200.
The second missing firearm, a shotgun, was never found.
Haught said he could at least prove the transfer of stolen good, if not also the burglary and petit larceny.
Morris told the court he assumed the victim had given the pistol to his girlfriend as she felt she needed a firearm for protection. He said she later felt uneasy about having the pistol and the third party offered to buy it, so Morris sold the gun.
Hummel asked Morris about the shotgun's whereabouts. The defendant said he did not know anything about it.
"Let's hope no one ends up injured or dead from this particular shot gun," said Hummel, adding, "So if you know where it's at, give it back."
Hummel accepted the guilty plea and dismissed the other two charges. Chief Probation Officer John Lantz will prepare a pre-sentence report. Morris will return to court Sept. 6 at 8:45 a.m. for sentencing. "Be prepared to go to jail," Hummel told Morris.
His $5,000 personal recognizance bond will continue, with an additional provision that Morris may leave the state for employment as long as drug test completed after court on Monday came back negative.