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Appeals Court Affirms 2015 Conviction

By Staff | Apr 13, 2016

MIDDLEBOURNE – The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling for a case regarding a man with Tyler County ties who was convicted for multiple felony and misdemeanor offenses.

A Tyler County jury convicted Howard Paul Shriver, 35, of Shinnston in January 2015 of the felony offenses of attempted second degree murder, burglary, two counts of retaliation against a witness, and an assortment of other misdemeanor charges.

The charges against Shriver stem from an incident when used a axe pick tool to enter the home of his estranged wife Shannon M. Shriver and two children and attempted to harm them and murder his wife in October of 2012. He was sentenced to eight-and-a-half to 45 years in the West Virginia State Penitentiary in 2015 at Tyler County Circuit Court.

Tyler County Prosecuting Attorney D. Luke Furbee tried the case on behalf of the State and defended the case on appeal in the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the convictions last Friday,” he said. “Obviously, I’m pleased with that result and happy that justice has been done in this case. This case underscores the seriousness of domestic violence which is unfortunately a frequent feature in this county’s criminal dockets. I’m making domestic violence a big priority in my office as this case demonstrates.”

The Court issued its opinion Friday.

“This Court has considered the parties’ briefs and the record on appeal,” the Court wrote. “The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented, the Court finds no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision affirming the circuit court’s order is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.”

Shriver’s convictions stem from a domestic dispute in October of 2012 with his estranged wife and her two children. At that time, Shriver was prevented from being in the home due to a domestic violence protective order that was in effect. Despite the order, Shriver broke into the her residence around midnight and accosted his wife and the children, according to court documents. Officials said the home was on a dead end lane about one mile from Wilbur, with only one other residence on the road.

According to the police report, Shriver appeared to have disabled the telephone and used a splitting maul to gain entry into the home, battering open the door and allegedly threatening his wife and children with the splitting maul.

Before the deputies arrived at the home, dispatchers were told by the original caller that five gunshots were heard coming from the Shrivers’ property. Shriver was then seen driving away in the direction of Doddridge County. Deputies later determined the alleged gunshots heard came as Shriver allegedly struggled to break into the home and a vehicle.

The wife and children fled the house and attempted to escape in a 1998 Ford Taurus, which was parked outside the residence.

However, Shriver prevented their escape by smashing the vehicle’s windshield and driver’s side window with a log splitter. After rendering the vehicle inoperable, petitioner removed the keys from the ignition and took a cell phone from the son from calling for help. The victims managed to escape the vehicle, and at some point, Shriver left the scene in his pickup truck. He was later apprehended while driving in Shinnston.

Second Judicial Circuit Court Judge Mark A. Karl presided over the Shriver trial, one the judge’s final cases in Tyler County before retirement. Shriver was found guilty by a jury of his peers after a three-day trial in January 2015.

“I have 12 days left on the bench before my retirement,” Karl said before he turned to Shriver. “You have been found guilty on 10 counts by a jury, for some reason you think you had an alibi. You have blamed everyone else but yourself.”

Shriver’s attorney, Jay Gerber, advised the court he could no longer be effective in representing his client during sentencing. He said Shriver had filed a complaint against him with the State Ethics Board and, among other things, had accused him of ineffective, unethical counsel and lying. Gerber said he would like to withdraw as counsel for his client. Karl then told Gerber he had done an outstanding job representing Shriver and permitted the attorney to withdraw from the case.

During the trial, the Tyler County Prosecutor Furbee moved into evidence the 1998 Ford Taurus that was damaged in the attack. Without objection from Shriver, the prosecutor also requested that the jury view the vehicle, which was parked in an area adjacent to the courthouse, according to court documents. Shriver appealed his conviction on the grounds that it was improper for the jury the twelve jurors, the attorneys, petitioner, and a few bailiffs left the courtroom to view the vehicle. However, neither the trial judge nor the court reporter accompanied them, to which Shriver’s did not object, according to the court documents. Shriver appealed his convictions, arguing solely that the judge’s failure to attend the jury view constituted prejudicial, reversible error. The Court of Appeals ruled otherwise.

“..As the State points out, the jury view took no longer than seven minutes during a three-day jury trial. Petitioner attended the view and was accompanied by his trial counsel,” the Court’s opinion said. “It is logical for this Court to presume that petitioner’s counsel would have brought to the circuit court’s attention any objections regarding what occurred during the view and placed them on the record when the trial resumed. It speaks volumes to this Court that there is no indication whatsoever in the trial record or in a post-trial motion that anything improper, unusual, or even potentially objectionable occurred during the jury view. Accordingly, petitioner cannot demonstrate that he was prejudiced by the judge’s failure to attend the jury view because he failed to show that it had any effect on the outcome of his trial.”