BY LISA POST
Joshua Toothman, who pleaded guilty to felony breaking and entering, destruction of property, and failure to appear in Tyler County Circuit Court in January, appeared in before of Judge David W. Hummel, Jr., on March 1.
Toothman and his attorney, Public Defender John Gainer, were present in the courtroom to argue the terms of sentencing before the court.
Toothman, age 26, of Friendly, was arrested in March, 2011, in connection with an attempted break-in at HPS Pharmacy in Sistersville. The defendant failed to appear in court for purposes of entering an agreed plea in August, 2011. Subsequently, Judge Hummel issued a capias warrant for Toothman's arrest. Toothman was later apprehended in Oklahoma in October, 2011, and extradited to Tyler County to answer charges.
Judge Hummel informed Toothman at the sentencing hearing, "This is your opportunity to speak for yourself."
"This is my opportunity to speak on my behalf?" asked Toothman.
"I have not made up my mind, as to sentencing," said Hummel. "If you wish to speak to the court, or have your attorney speak, you may do so. If you wish to remain silent, you may do so."
Gainer then addressed the court and spoke on Toothman's behalf, saying "Mr. Toothman has been gainfully employed all his adult life. He served two tours of duty in Iraq. It was during these tours of duty that Mr. Toothman developed an anxiety disorder, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). He saw things, he experienced things in Iraq, that adversely affected him. He had anger and anxiety. He suffered from sleeplessness, but he still worked, still tried to function."
"Then, he started using drugs," said Gainer. "He found the only way he could sleep was to get so 'stoned' he would pass out. He started using heroin, his biggest mistake. Mr. Toothman is now seeing a psychologist, and has been searching for a rehabilitation facility."
"His time in jail has been pretty rough," said Gainer. "He's been attacked seven times while incarcerated. Mr. Toothman is requesting home confinement, so he can get the help he knows he needs."
Speaking for the State, Prosecuting Attorney D. Luke Furbee addressed the court. "Your honor, this is madness. Madness! Not only in this community, but along the entire Ohio Valley, the scourge of drugs is utter madness."
"This is not the place to address the issue of drugs," continued Furbee. "This is a court of law. This is not about the drug addiction. This is about the crimes committed in furtherance of the drug habit."
"People are tired of this - our citizens expect to be protected. They expect their property to be protected," said Furbee. "No matter what happens to Mr. Toothman today, I wish him well in the recovery from his addiction, but the fact is, while this case was pending, the defendant 'thumbed his nose' at the court, and jumped bond."
"What kind of message would the court send, if there was no penalty for that?" said Furbee.
Toothman then addressed the court, beginning, "I apologize to the court. These past five months I have had ample opportunity to realize the mistakes I've made.
"It's obvious I need drug and mental health treatment," admitted Toothman. "The regional jails lack the facilities to help people who are dealing with drug problems. I have no criminal record, previous to this time. I had a clean military record. I fled as a matter of personal safety, after the attacks in jail."
"When you fall as far as I have," said Toothman, "there's no other direction to go but up. I am requesting alternative sentencing, so I can get the help I need."
The court also was presented with a letter written by Toothman's mother on his behalf, which the judge read silently, before left the courtroom to consider his decision.
Upon return, Judge Hummel addressed the defendant, saying, "The court must consider this as an anti-societal act, and determine what message to send to the community about committing, the same, or similar, acts."
"You broke into a pharmacy," said the judge, "because that's where the drugs are. People always seek the courts help with rehab - after the fact. Through your cowardice or calculation, you fled from this prosecution. You needlessly cost the county $1,000, because you were a coward."
"This is a tough decision," remarked Hummel. "On the one hand, there's Joshua Toothman, distinguished veteran. and on the other hand, there is Joshua Toothman, the criminal. Justice delayed, is justice denied. The fact is, (if) you break into a pharmacy, you go to prison."
"I wish you the best of luck," Judge Hummel said in conclusion, and then sentenced Toothman to serve two 1-10 year sentences for breaking and entering and felony destruction of property, to run concurrently; (credit for time served), and 1-5 years on the failure to appear charge, which was suspended. Restitution in the amount of $2,000 was ordered to HPS pharmacy, as well as $1,000 to Tyler County Sheriff's Office in repayment for extradition from Oklahoma.
Toothman was remanded into custody of NCRJ awaiting transfer to the WV Dept. of Corrections.