Judge Mark A. Karl heard the following criminal matters in Circuit Court on Thursday, May 20.
Dale R. Barnhart, 47, no address given, was charged in a February 2006 indictment with the felony of "possession of firearms by a prohibited person." Typically a misdemeanor, the indictment alleged the felony version of the offense because Barnhart had been previously convicted of a crime of violence against a person in Ohio. No action was taken in his case because the North Central Regional Jail neglected to place him in transport, even though they did receive the transport order. His case was passed to June 7.
Kenneth Ahouse of Rt. 2 Box 71B, Alma, appeared with his attorney, David White of Moundsville. Ahouse had been sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison for the offense of attempted sexual assault, but his sentence was suspended in January 2009 by the Court and he was placed on three years of probation. Adult Probation Officer John Lantz had filed a petition to revoke his probation because he had been cited by a Doddridge County depute sheriff for public intoxication. As of the time of the hearing, he had spent 57 days in jail after having been arrested by Lantz. Ahouse admitted the violation of his probation, and he was credited for 57 days in jail and released to his former probation. Judge Karl admonished him that any further violation would result in the imposition of the prison sentence.
Timothy J. Lasure, 32, of HC 67 Box 19B, West Union appeared with attorney David White. He was charged in an indictment found February Term 2009 with breaking and entering and larceny. White made a motion to waive his right to a trial at this term of Court so that he may conduct more investigation. The motion was granted and Lasure was ordered to return on June 9.
Dustin Fulks, 20, of Buck Run Road, Sistersville, was before the court with attorney Roger Weese seeking release from home confinement. Fulks pled guilty in May, 2009 to unlawful assault and entry of a dwelling. He was given an effective sentence of one to 10 years to be served alternatively on home confinement. He was eligible for parole from home confinement on Thursday. Because he had good behavior on home confinement and no violations, Judge Karl paroled him from home confinement.
Diana Ash, 46, of Rt. 1 Box 641, Greenwood, WV appeared with attorney David White, as attorney Kevin Neiswonger had a scheduling conflict. White informed the Court that Ash intends to plead guilty pursuant to a plea agreement and asked the Court to set the matter for the taking of her plea. She was charged in an indictment found in October 2009 with operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory, possession of precursors to the manufacturing of methamphetamine, and exposure of children to methamphetamine manufacturing. She was ordered to return June 9.
George Ash, 46, of Rt. 1 Box 641, Greenwood, WV appeared with his attorney, David Frame of Clarksburg, and the Court took up several motions in the case. He is currently scheduled to stand trial on June 7 concerning an indictment returned October 2009 charging him with operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory, possession of precursors to methamphetamine manufacturing, and exposure of children to methamphetamine manufacturing. He has been incarcerated in the regional jail since August, 2009.
Ash had filed a multiple-part motion in limine, as well as a motion to reduce his bond. In that motion, Ash seeks to bar the testimony of his wife, Diana Ash, to be used against him at the trial. In a lengthy argument, Judge Karl heard from Frame and Luke Furbee, Prosecuting Attorney. Frame argued that it is clearly the law that Ash's wife cannot be called by the State against him at the trial. Furbee responded that the count of exposure of children to methamphetamine manufacturing is not covered by the marital privilege, and that in any event the State believes that Ash must make a motion to separate the counts of the indictment for trial or else they waive the privilege. Judge Karl took the matter under advisement.
Ash also had moved the Court to limit any Rule 404(b) evidence, as well as the testimony of CPS workers who interviewed him at the jail on August 17, 2009. Judge Karl granted the motion on the 404(b) material with respect to any prior convictions, which was not objected to by the State because there were no prior convictions. But as to the testimony of certain witnesses, Judge Karl ruled their testimony was not the subject of 404(b). As to the testimony of the CPS workers, the Court heard testimony from Kelly Fletcher, a CPS worker from the New Martinsville office. Judge Karl denied Ash's motion and ruled the State could use the testimony.
The State had filed its own motion in limine, with respect to two items. Judge Karl took the State's motions under advisement and ordered Ash to be returned May 28. Ruling on the motion for bond reduction was also deferred until that time.
James Lee Smith, Sr., of HC 60 Box 130 AA, Middlebourne, was charged in February 2010 in an indictment with manufacturing marijuana, a schedule one controlled substance. He appeared with his attorney, David White. White stated that he needed to review a plea offer with Smith. He made a motion to waive his right to a trial at this term of Court. He was ordered to return June 9.
Randy Forrester, 44, of Weirton, WV, was before the Court with attorney Roger Weese concerning a two-count indictment returned February 2010 charging him with "failure to provide notice of registration changes" as pertained to the sex offender registry, as well as domestic battery. Forrester entered guilty pleas to both counts, and was sentenced to not less than one nor more than five years in prison for the registry offense, and six months in jail for domestic battery. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently with each other, and with a sentence he received in the Circuit Court of Brooke County recently. He was ordered to self-report to the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville June 8 to begin serving the sentences.
Jerry Noland, 44, of 136 East Charles St., Middlebourne was charged in an indictment in February 2010 with three counts of possession of controlled substances with intent to deliver. He appeared with his attorney, John Gainer, of the Public Defender Corporation. Gainer moved the court to continue the case. Noland waived his right to trail this term of court.
Jay Morgan, 32, of Rt. 2 Box 231, New Martinsville was charged in an indictment returned at February Term 2010 with two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree and one count of sexual abuse by a custodian. He had been incarcerated in connection with those offenses since October, 2009. On Thursday, Morgan withdrew his pleas of not guilty and pled guilty to the two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree. In return for his pleas, the State moved to dismiss the remaining count. Judge Karl sentenced Morgan to consecutive terms of imprisonment of not less than one nor more than five years, for an effective sentence of two 10 years. On his release on parole or with the discharge of his sentences, he will be required to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life and also will be subject to three years of supervised release under the supervision of the probation officer. Prosecuting Attorney, Luke Furbee informed the Court that the victims and their family were in agreement with the disposition of the case.
"The Defendant had confessed to these heinous acts. The plea averts the necessity of placing the young victims on the witness stand, which is still required at a trial even though he confessed. It is always a terrible situation when victims must face that kind of public exposure. These victims aren't going to have to worry about Morgan for a long time, and neither will anyone else." stated Furbee after the hearing.