Jeremy C. Swartzmiller appeared before Chief Judge David W. Hummel, Jr. on Dec. 15 in Tyler County Circuit Court with his attorney, Patricia Kurelac. Swartzmiller was named in a one-count indictment returned in October, charging that he committed the felony offense of receiving stolen property.
Swartzmiller was alleged to have received two stolen Honda dirt bikes constituting a total value of more than $1000 in June 2011, along with Gavin Hisam, who was also indicted. Ms. Kurelac told the judge that Swartzmiller was prepared to plead guilty without an agreement with the state. She said that Swartzmiller had received a plea offer, but wanted an opportunity to convince the court that his sentence be different from what the state recommended.
Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee told the judge that in his opinion, defendants have an absolute right to plead guilty without an agreement. Judge Hummel agreed, and accepted his plea of guilt. After completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the Adult Probation Officer, Swartzmiller will appear for sentencing on Jan. 19.
Furbee said "when a person pleads guilty without an agreement, it means that he or she is "throwing himself or herself on the mercy of the court."
"A defendant may elect to do this if he or she knows the state can prove guilt, but is unhappy with the sentencing recommendation," explained the prosecutor. "The Court will not be bound by the sentencing recommendations of either the defendant or the prosecution, and, if a person does not like the sentence, he or she has no right to withdraw the plea."
Also appearing in court was James D. Wade, with his attorney, John Gainer. Gainer was indicted in October of this year for the alleged offense of driving on revoked/suspended license DUI, third offense.
Gainer earlier filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, arguing Wade had previously pled to a municipal citation in Paden City in connection with the charge filed by the Sistersville Police Department.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gary Rymer argued that the offense charged in the indictment was separate and distinct from the Paden City citation and that in any event, the prosecutor's office is by law not responsible for municipal court proceedings and could not have known about the Paden City charge. After hearing the arguments, Judge Hummel agreed with the prosecution and denied the motion to dismiss. Wade then entered a guilty plea to the indictment and was sentenced to not less than one nor more than three years in prison, to be served alternatively on home confinement under the supervision of the Sheriff's Office.
Forrrest J. Carroll appeared in Tyler Co. Circuit Court Dec. 19 with his attorney, Roger Weese. Carroll was indicted in October for the misdemeanor offense of driving under the influence of alcohol and the felony offense of fleeing a police officer in a vehicle while driving under the influence.
The charges stem from a June incident, when a call was phoned in to the 911 center informing dispatch of a reckless driver in Middlebourne. Deputy D.S. Dalrymple responded and observed a vehicle traveling south through Middlebourne at a high rate of speed. Dalrymple turned and followed the vehicle, activating his emergency lights. Dalrymple pursued the vehicle to Dodd Street, where the offender refused to yield for him or several stop signs. The vehicle came to a stop in a driveway on Kirchner Street.
A juvenile passenger then jumped out of the vehicle and fled on foot. Carroll, the driver, was administered field sobriety tests, which he failed, and was transported to the Sheriff's office for the secondary chemical test of his breath. That result was positive at a B.A.C. level of .085.
During the hearing, Carroll admitted to Judge Hummel that he had consumed liquor the day of the incident and was on a "beer run" to Witschey's when he encountered Deputy Dalrymple. Carroll pled guilty to both counts. He will be sentenced Jan. 19.
Gavin M. Hisam also appeared, with attorney Roger Weese. Hisam was indicted for receiving stolen property in connection with Jeremy Swartzmiller's case. During the hearing, Hisam admitted to having purchased a Honda dirtbike in the parking lot of McDonald's in New Martinsville (valued at over $2,000) for the sum of $700. The bike was transported to Sistersville where it was repainted. The dirt bike was returned to its owner, following the seizure by State Police in July, but was in damaged condition.
Upon consideration, Judge Hummel ordered Hisam to pay one-half the restitution to the owner, along with one-half of a storage bill. Hisam was further sentenced to not less than one nor more than 10 years in prison, suspended, and he will be placed on two years of supervised probation after spending two months incarcerated at N.C.R.J.
Commenting on the plea proceedings, Furbee remarked "We have had pretty good success lately in getting these cases indicted and disposed of within the term of court."
"We only have one carryover left from February and June, and that was because the defendant fled the state, although he is back here and in jail to answer the charges now," Furbee continued. "We have had over 50 felony cases filed in circuit court this year. Judge Hummel is very strict with continuances and that's the way it should be."