Walker pleads guilty
By HEATHER SMITH
After spending more than a year attending court proceedings, the family of Paul Lyttle III can finally get some closure. Michael S. Walker pleaded guilty on Feb. 18 in front of Judge Mark A. Karl to the felony charge of driving under the influence of alcohol causing the death of Paul Lyttle III. It was an emotional scene in the courtroom as Karl read Walker’s sentence.At one point Debbie Lyttle, Paul’s mother, sat in the front row with her hands covering her face.
Walker, 37, of 142 Pine Lake Drive, Scott Depot, W.Va., was charged with the felony of driving under the influence of alcohol causing death to have occurred on November 23, 2008. After a warrant was issued for his arrest on February 20, 2009, he willingly came into the sheriff’s office and was released on a $3,000 personal recognizance bond.
Karl asked Walker what he had done.
“I knowingly was under the influence of alcohol and driving a vehicle where my best friend lost his life,” said Walker, sobbing.
Tyler County’s Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee read the evidence the state would have presented if the case would have gone to trail.
Walker and Lyttle were traveling southbound on state Route 18 going toward the fairgrounds on the evening of Nov. 23, 2008, when the accident occurred. Lyttle was pronounced dead on the scene. Walker was transported to Sistersville General Hospital for treatment of injuries suffered and later released. His blood alcohol concentration was one percent which was consumed by drinking eight beers and four whiskey drinks, stated Furbee.
Deputy J.K. Maston took a statement from Walker who admitted to being the driver of the vehicle. A statement was also taken from a witness to the crash. The witness said Walker came up behind him at a high rate of speed and was tailgating him. The vehicle then passed the witness in a non-passing zone and continued on at a high rate of speed. Walker then lost control and crashed the vehicle into the Middle Island Creek.
Karl sentenced Walker to serve no less than two and no more than 10 years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men. After serving one year, he will be placed on two years probation. He was given credit for time served and was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and all court appointed fees.
Karl granted Walker permission to read a letter that he had written to the Lyttle family apologizing for what he had done.
They are to return back on March 19 at 1:30 p.m. to hear testimonies from the family of Paul Lyttle.
Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee had the following comments after the hearing, “This case is summed up in one word-tragedy. One man lost his life and another man lost his liberty because of drunk driving. These men happened to be friends. One man lost all he had, and all his family have with him, and another man has to find a way to live with that result for the rest of his days. The law has had it’s say, and justice according to law was done here, but I’m sure Mr. Walker’s conscience will castigate him far more than the law ever can. The victim’s family is in agreement with the disposition of this case.
“This case is yet another sad example of proof beyond any doubt that driving drunk is deadly business. It kills innocent people, destroys lives and tears families apart. And at the end of the day, the law is an inadequate remedy for any of those things. All of this is easily prevented, don’t drink and drive.”
Also appearing before Karl on Thursday was George Ash, 46, of Rt. 1 Box 641, Greenwood, W.Va., was charged with a felony count one of operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory and a felony count two of possession of substances to be used as precursor to manufacture Methamphetamine and a felony count three of exposure of children to Methamphetamine manufacturing.
His attorney, David Frame, stated to Karl that they plan to go to trial. Karl scheduled the three-day trial to begin on April 26 at 9 a.m.
Ash was remanded back to North Central Regional Jail and is to return back on April 1 at 10 a.m.
Dale R. Barnhart also appeared in court. He was picked up on a capias warrant for failure to appear in court.
He was charged with the felony offense in January 2006 in Tyler County for possession of firearm by a prohibited person by possessing one Stevens .22 Caliber Long, one JC Higgins .22 Caliber, one Ruger Model .223 Caliber, one .50 Caliber, one chrome plated Davis .22 Caliber Derringer, one Blued Star 9mm pistol, one Winchester 1300 Pump 12 gauge, one Muzzle loader pistol and one Remmington .22 Caliber long.
He had been previously convicted of a crime of violence against a person in the Common Pleas Court in Washington County, Ohio, in 1995.
Karl ordered him to fill out an income sheet to see if he is eligible for a public defender. He was remanded back to NCRJ and is to return back on March 4 at 10 a.m.
Brenda D. Shreves appeared with her attorney, Kevin Neiswonger. She was charged with two felony counts of delivery of a controlled substance and one felony count of manufacturing of a controlled substance. Her bond was continued and she is to return back on March 4 at 10 a.m.
Jessica E. Grimes appeared in court and was remanded to the Division of Corrections. She pleaded guilty on Jan. 27 for the felony offense of acquiring or obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation by fraud, deception, forgery and subterfuge and sentenced to serve one to four years. She was also sentenced to serve six months each, to be served concurrently, for two accessories after the fact to two breaking and enterings. She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $50 to Ronnie Smith and all court appointed fees.
Joshua T. Jenkins was in front of Karl on a possible plea. Motions were filed and his bond was continued. He was ordered to return on April 29 at 1:30 p.m. His bond was continued.
Although on the docket, William B. Neff did not appear before Karl. Previously he had failed to appear in court on Nov. 23. He is to return back on March 4 at 10 a.m.
Neff, 36, of Rt. 1 Box 232 Middlebourne, was charged with manufacturing a controlled substance. While out on bond in Tyler County, he was charged for a malicious assault charge in Wetzel County.
Jeremiah R. Anderson also did not appear. Anderson, 23, of Knob Fork, W.Va., was charged with the felony count one of breaking and entering a building other than a dwelling, a misdemeanor count two of petit larceny, felony count three of attempted breaking and entering other than a dwelling, and a misdemeanor count four of destruction of property. He is to return back on March 4 at 10 a.m.
Timothy J. Judge, 28, of 302 Tyler Highway, Sistersville also did not appear in court. He was charged with one felony count of breaking and entering a building other than a dwelling and a misdemeanor of petit larceny. His attorney, Neiswonger, stated to Karl that he had been called out to work on an emergency basis. Karl told Neiswonger to inform his client that he is to return back on March 4 at 10 a.m.