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Defendants appear in court

By Staff | Jun 1, 2011

Donald K. Weekley, Jr., who was indicted on eight felony counts, (sexual abuse in the first degree, six counts, sexual abuse first degree by a parent, one count, sexual abuse first degree by a person in a position of trust, one count) in March, appeared in front of Judge David W. Hummel, Jr., at Thursday’s session of Tyler County Circuit Court.

Weekley appeared in person and was represented by his attorney, John Gainer. A request by the defense to split the charges up was granted by Judge Hummel. Charges 3 through 8 will be tried first, as one case; charges one and two will be tried as a separate case.

Prosecuting Attorney D. Luke Furbee requested that testimony be taken from West Virginia State Police Sergeant Charlie Kush, who administered a voluntary polygraph test to Weekley. Judge Hummel granted the request and Sgt. Kush was sworn in.

Establishing that Sgt. Kush was a criminal investigator with 17 years experience conducting over 750 polygraph exams in the past seven years, Furbee asked how Kush came to administer the test to Weekley.

“I was contacted by the the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office, ” stated Sgt. Kush. “He (Weekley) had volunteered to take the polygraph.”

“How did Weekley appear that day? Was he in custody?” asked Furbee.

“He came in of his own free will, he was wearing street clothes,” replied Kush. “I gave him two forms to sign. One form detailed his Miranda rights, which he signed.”

The other form, a polygraph release, was also signed by Weekley.

Sgt. Kush went on to detail the events of the polygraph test. “I explained to him how the test works,” Kush told the court. “It’s broken down into three parts. First, I go over the allegations and ask some of the questions that will be on the exam.”

“Next is the actual exam,” he continued. “The last part of the test, I go over the results and explain them to the person tested.”

“I gave him (Weekley) a break after the first part of the polygrah,” stated Kush. “I stayed in the room, and he went outside, maybe to take a smoke break.”

“I gave him another break after the exam,” Kush continued. “Again, I stayed in the room, and Weekley went outside. He was gone ten or fifteen minutes, both times.”

“Did he come back of his own free will?” asked Furbee.

“Yes, he was free to go at any time, and I had explained that to him,” stated Kush.

Defense attorney John Gainer also questioned Sgt. Kush.

“Did you Mirandize Mr. Weekely after he came back after his breaks?” asked Gainer.

“No,” replied Sgt. Kush. “I went over the Miranda with him once, read it to him, and he signed the document.”

“Did Mr. Weekley ever ask for an attorney?”

“No, he did not,” replied Kush.

Donald Weekley then took the stand. It was established through the defense that Weekley had an 11th grade education, and that he was in special classes while in school.

“I have ADD,” said Weekley, “but I stopped taking the medicine.”

When asked why he had volunteered for the polygraph, Weekley said, “I thought I had no choice but to take the test. I thought I would be arrested if I didn’t take it.”

Prosecuting attorney Furbee then questioned the witness. “Do you have a GED? You can read, write, and understand the English language?”

“Yes,” replied Weekley.

“It was your idea to have this meeting (with Sgt. Kush), wasn’t it?” Furbee continued.

Weekley replied that it was.

“You knew you had a right to an attorney, but you never told Sgt. Kush you wanted a lawyer?” asked the prosecutor.

Weekley admitted that he had not requested an attorney in Kush’s presence.

“You were told that you could leave, at any time, is that correct?” continued Furbee.

Weekley replied that he had been told that he was free to go at any time.

After listening to testimony, Judge Hummel ruled that the statements given by Weekley to Kush were voluntary.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about ‘Miranda’, and frankly, it’s superfluous. Mr. Weekley was not in custody,” commented Judge Hummel.

Weekley, who was arrested by the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office after results from the polygraph test were obtained, is currently in custody at the North Central Regional Jail.

Weekley requested a bond reduction, from $40,000 to $10,000. The request was denied.

“This is an eight count indictment,” commented Furbee. “I feel that bond of $40,000 is appropriate.”

Kevin Ray Morgan, who filed a writ of habeas corpus through his attorney, appeared in front of Judge Hummel and presented a document to the court dated December 7, 2007, stating he had permission to be on property owned by Gerald Lauderman, Paden City. Morgan was convicted of nighttime burglary of the property and failure to appear, in 2006. He is currently incarcerated, serving a 1-15 year sentence, in the Ohio County Correctional Facility.

Morgan claimed, through his attorney, that he had permission to be on the property. He also claimed his failure to appear conviction was due to the fact he was incarcerated in Beaufort, S. C., at the time of the hearing, and could not make the Tyler County court date.

Morgan’s attorney argued that he had received improper information from defense attorney Roger Weese, who represented Morgan at the time.

Morgan claimed that Weese “guaranteed” a sentence of one year would be served if Morgan accepted a plea agreement from the prosecutor’s office. Morgan instead served two years of his sentence after the parole board denied his release at the end of one year.

Morgan claimed in front of Judge Hummel that he was not guilty of the crime, and had accepted the plea agreement because he had already served eight months in jail.

“I was told to say I was guilty by my attorney, to get the deal, which I didn’t get,” stated Morgan.

Morgan also claimed attorney Dean Rohrig “has a vendetta against me. I don’t know why,” and the supposed prejudice of Rohrig against the defendant resulted in the extra time served.

When questioned by prosecuting attorney Gary Rymer, Morgan admitted he was in jail on a DUI charge in South Carolina which resulted in his charge of failure to appear.

“Drinking on parole, that was a voluntary act, wasn’t it?” queried Rymer.

Morgan replied that it was.

“Leaving the state was also a voluntary act, wasn’t it?” asked Rymer.

Morgan admitted that he had left the state voluntarily, to be with his wife, who was about to give birth.

“When you returned to West Virginia, did you contact the court? Did you let them know why you had failed to appear? Or did you not approach the court until the capias was issued?” asked Rymer.

Morgan admitted that he had not contacted the court, or his attorney, about failing to appear.

“So, when Judge Karl (presiding judge at the time) accepted your plea agreement, he explained your constitutional rights, did he not?” asked Rymer. “And you pleaded guilty. Are you saying you lied to the court when you accepted the plea agreement?”

Morgan said he was told by his attorney to lie to the judge to “get the deal.”

“In fact, you are in prison now because you violated your parole,” said Rymer. “To summarize, we’re here because you pleaded guilty to two things you didn’t do, because your attorney told you to, and promised you would be out (of jail) in a year?”

Morgan said Mr. Weese had encouraged him to take the sentence agreement.

Attorney Roger Weese was called to the stand. When questioned by Rymer, Weese stated, “Kevin was in it up to his eyeballs, in my opinion,” concerning the burglary of the Lauderman property. “He may have had permission for limited purposes to be on the property, but that didn’t include using bolt cutters to enter the property for purposes of theft.”

“There were co-defendants ready to testify against him,” Weese continued. “Those co-defendants were all convicted. In my opinion, Mr. Morgan received a ‘sweetheart’ deal from the prosecution.”

“The state had other, more serious charges against Mr. Morgan,” explained Weese. “But the state offered the plea on the one felony. I did the very best I could for Kevin.”

“I was very satisfied with the disposition,” concluded Weese, “and so was Kevin, at the time.”

The date for the decision concerning the writ of habeas corpus was set three weeks from Thursday.

In other matters, Christopher Lewis, Birch Street, Sistersville, appeared in front of Judge Hummel concerning revocation of home incarceration.

On April, police were called to the Birch St. residence about a dispute, and consequently arrested Lewis’s girlfriend.

The girlfriend allegedly gave Lewis some of her prescibed medications, which Lewis claimed to have put in his mouth, then later spit out.

When questioned, Lewsis also allegedly admitted to deupties he had smoked marijuana and lied to police concerning a stolen motorcycle.

Upon considering the facts, Judge Hummel revoked home confinement and Lewis was remanded into custody until June 4.

Michael R. Riggle, who was convicted in 2004 on two counts felony sexual assault 3rd degree, faced Judge Hummel on charges of failing to register as a sex offender.

Riggle was sentenced to 1 – 15 years and remanded back into the custody of the North Central Regional Jail. Riggle is a lifetime register on the sex offender list.

Ryen M. Archer, indicted on two felony counts, delivery of a controlled substance, (marijuana), had a trial date set for June 23.

Charlotte Kimball, charged with ten felony counts of entering a dwelling without breaking with the intent to commit a crime, had her case continued to June 23.

Zachary J. Ferrebee and Amber Lewis were both released from NCRJ and placed on supervised probation for a period of two years.

Ronald Keith Hensley, who had failed to sign up for home confinement, had his case dismissed in circuit court, to be taken up in magistrate court. “This is not my case to sentence,” remarked Judge Hummel.