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Judge Hummel handles heavy court docket

By Staff | Dec 29, 2010

A full docket dominated the day on Dec. 23 in Tyler County Circuit Court, as Judge David W. Hummel, Jr., presided over 13 cases ranging from forgery and uttering to burglary and grand larceny.

Donald Alex Bassett, 25, of 1749 Oil Ridge Road, Sistersville, previously indicted on three counts of forgery and seven counts of uttering, initially refused the plea agreement offered by the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, stating through his defense attorney, John Gainer, that he had “a medical condition” and thought the sentence “too harsh.”

Gainer initially requested that the matter go to trial, stating that Bassett “wasn’t happy with the offer.”

The prosecution argued that both a written statement attributed to Bassett and a video of the defendant cashing a check in question were grounds for going to trial on all 10 counts. The State also noted that corroborating witnesses had also given statements implicating Bassett.

The State offered Bassett a plea by which he would cut the charges from 10 to two, each carrying a one-to-ten year sentencing possibility, with the offer of possible probation at the end of the first sentence.

Paden City Patrolman Ronald Henry was called to give testimony concerning the statement Bassett had signed after being questioned about the checks. Bassett was brought in for questioning after an employee at the BFS convenience store called, informing police that they were “suspicious” concerning Bassett’s cashing checks belonging to another person. Henry explained that he took Bassett’s statement, read it back to him to make sure it was correct, and then gave it to Bassett, who signed it. Bassett was not detained further by police at the time.

“Was Mr. Bassett sober when you questioned him about the checks, defense attorney Gainer queried Patrolman Henry, alleging that Bassett had been drinking before signing off on the written statement.

“Yes,” replied Henry. “He was not visibly intoxicated, and there was no smell of alcohol on the defendant.”

Upon hearing the evidence the State was prepared to present to the court, Bassett and his lawyer conferred for a time whereupon Bassett accepted the plea offer.

Bassett pleaded guilty to one count of forgery and one count of uttering, each with a sentencing potential of not less than one nor more than ten years, to run consecutively. The second count was suspended.

Bassett was also ordered to pay restitution to his victims. “I took part in getting the check cashed,” confessed Bassett to the judge.

Jessica Schoolcraft, 23, of 535 Pleasant Hill Drive, Richmond, Va., also appeared before Judge Hummel with her attorney David C. White.

Schoolcraft was charged with attempted breaking and entering, stemming from a March incident involving Jeremiah Anderson, Kimberly Rial and the defendant. Schoolcraft allegedly drove Rial and Anderson to Middlebourne from New Martinsville for the intended purpose of breaking into Prunty’s Pharmacy to steal drugs.

Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee told the court that Schoolcraft’s “role in the enterprise was not as great” as that of Rial and Anderson, noting that Schoolcraft had “testified truthfully” about the robbery attempt, which led to a successful prosecution of both Anderson and Rial.

In light of Schoolcraft’s cooperation with the court, the original charge of attempted breaking and entering was dismissed and she was allowed to plead to the misdemeanor charge of accessory after the fact to attempted breaking and entering. Schoolcraft was placed on one year probation and received a one year suspended sentence for her part in the crime, and was fined $500.

She was also ordered to pay court and attorney fees. Judge Hummel informed Schoolcraft that her probation could be revoked at any time if she failed to comply with the terms and she would be remanded to custody to serve out her full remaining sentence.

Brian C. Jenkins, 32, of St. Marys, was sentenced on one count of burglary and one count of felony grand larceny after accepting the prosecuting attorney’s plea agreement.

Jenkins was accused of breaking into a “seasonal property” in Tyler County where he reportedly stole a four-wheeler, two hand-held cameras and other items valued at almost $2,500.

He also was accused in a separate incident of stealing a Toyota pick-up truck.

Furbee noted that the four-wheeler and the truck had been returned to their owners.

“I did break into the cabin,” admitted Jenkins when questioned by the judge.

Jenkins was sentenced to not less than one nor more than fifteen years for the burglary and not less than one nor more than ten years on the felony grand larceny charge. The sentences are to run consecutively. He was ordered to pay restitution as well as court costs.

Also appearing in court in front of Judge Hummel was Brittany J. Nolan, 25, of New Martinsville.

Nolan was indicted on four counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of driving on a suspended or revoked license, first offense.

Nolan was stopped by Cpl. D.A. Northcraft of the Sistersville Police Department for driving with no headlights on. The officer became suspicious when he observed Nolan’s behavior and requested permission to search the vehicle, which Nolan granted.

The subsequent search revealed that Nolan was in possession of three baggies of marijuana and an assortment of pills.

Nolan pleaded guilty to one count of possession of marijuana and one count of driving on a suspended license. She was sentenced to two years of supervised probation and 30 days in jail with credit for time served.

As a condition of the plea agreement Judge Hummel ordered Nolan to make available to her probation officer all medical records, remarking that he was concerned that she had been “doctor shopping.”

Nolan was fined $250, forfeited $270 worth of contraband and begins serving her remaining jail sentence by noon of Dec. 31.

William L. Wright, 33, of Sistersville, rejected a plea agreement offered by the prosecuting attorney’s office concerning charges of delivering a controlled substance by unlawfully, feloniously delivering marijuana and a misdemeanor charge of delivering an imitation controlled substance he falsely represented to be Vicodin, a schedule III narcotic. Wright allegedly sold to a confidential informant in a public place (a bar).

Upon refusing the prosecutor’ offer, Wright stated “I didn’t do it, I would’ve signed the plea agreement if I did it.”

The matter will go to trial in January.

Sebastian J.E. Rosenlieb, 20, of Sistersville, once again appeared in court facing several charges including escape, attempting to disarm a police officer, and battery on a police officer.

After being taken into custody for revocation of bond, Rosenlieb allegedly attempted to disarm a police officer and escape. According to the arresting officer, Rosenlieb was told to go into the holding cell but instead was observed standing in the 911 center. Rosenlieb then ran for the door while the deputy called out his name and told him to stop.

Rosenlieb was eventually apprehended in the parking lot behind the Tyler Courthouse by a corrections officer from the North Central Regional Jail and a deputy sheriff.

Attorney for the defense, Keith White of St. Marys, requested that he be shown the site of the alleged escape attempt and also that he be allowed to speak to Trooper Curran, who was unable to attend the circuit court session. Judge Hummel granted a White a continuance of 30 days in order to meet these requests.

Rosenlieb previously pleaded guilty to the charges of malicious assault and reckless driving (in August) as a result of running a male juvenile off the road and then stabbing him in the arm with a knife.

He will appear in circuit court again next month.

Christopher L. Lewis, 21, Sistersville, accepted a sentence of one year of home confinement, pleading to one count of attempt to acquire possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, forgery or subterfuge. If Lewis does not successfully complete the year, the original sentence of not less than one nor more than four years in prison will be enforced.

Judge Hummel also ruled in favor of granting probation to Christopher A. Olszewski, who is presently serving time for felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Upon completion of a year’s incarceration, Olszewski will be granted two years supervised probation.

Patrick Joseph Blavos, 35, of Belmont, accepted an agreed-to plea and was given 45 days to complete the terms of the agreement.

The charge of felony failure to pay child support will be dismissed after the terms are completed.

Brandon C. Walters was released from the North Central Regional Jail where he was incarcerated for breaking the terms of his probation. He stated to the court that he had been “going down the wrong path” and had learned from his past mistakes.

The indictment against Timothy J. Judge was dismissed on the motion of Gainer, his counsel. He argued that it should be dismissed based on a defective application of the Sexual Offender Registry Act.

Furbee stated that the law was very unclear, but that the interpretation of the WV State Police had been used. He sympathized with the ruling, however, Furbee said he planned to consult the Attorney General’s Office regarding an appeal.

Kenneth D. Ahouse appeared on a petition to revoke his probation. Judge Hummel held the petition in abeyance while he takes the matter under advisement.