By Jean A. Flanagan
“People who don’t comply are saying they’d rather be in jail than on probation.” With more than half the cases on the docket that were probation violations, Judge C. Carter Williams could not help but express his frustration.
Williams heard motions on Wednesday, Sept. 20 in Hardy County Circuit Court.
Justin A. Gray, 29, of Moorefield was sentenced to one year in jail in 2015 for petit larceny. The sentence was suspended and he was ordered to serve three years on probation.
On Aug. 22, Gray was arrested for shoplifting and officers noticed an odor of alcohol. His blood alcohol content was .115 as measured by a breathalyzer.
Standard conditions of probation are not committing another crime and not consuming alcohol.
[private] Judge Williams found Gray in violation of his probation and ordered him to serve the one year sentence with credit for time served.
Kristina Bennett was sentenced in February to six months in jail for a misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine charge. The sentence was modified to two years probation.
In July, Bennett tested positive for methamphetamine at the Day Report Center and in August, she was arrested for shoplifting at Wal-Mart and driving on a suspended license.
Judge Williams revoked Bennett’s probation reinstated the six-month sentence. With credit for time served, she has only four months remaining.
Jonie Nelson, Bennett’s attorney requested the four months be served on home detention. “She wants to continue on Day Report and she wants to take care of her kids,” Nelson said.
“If you want to take care of your kids, stop doing meth,” Williams said to Bennett.
He said he will consider home incarceration after two months, if Bennett has a job and a place to live.
Judge Williams issued capias warrants on Zachery Lafollette, 25, and Luis Flores, 27, who were both charged with probation violations for failure to contact their probation officer as ordered.
A capias warrant means the defendants can be arrested without probable cause and held without bond.
Judge Williams continued the probation violation motion for Manrique Santia, 43, of Moorefield.
According to Williams, Santia was arrested in July and charged with malicious wounding. He was on probation for a 2016 drug possession conviction.
According to Joshua Orndorff, Santia’s attorney, the police report and other discovery material has not been furnished.
“The police report is not complete,” Hardy County Prosecuting Attorney Lucas See said.
The case is continued to Monday, Oct. 30.
Judge Williams also continued the probation violation motion for David L. Moton Jr., 33, of Baker
Moton has been on probation since 2012 for a number of crimes including failure to register as a sex offender, driving on a revoked driver’s license and operating a clandestine drug laboratory. In August, he tested positive for methamphetamine.
“David is not a danger to anyone,” attorney Lary Garrett argued. “He has an extremely low IQ and can’t fully understand or comply with the requirements of registering as a sex offender. He is doing better than most people with his IQ. To put him in jail would be a travesty and unfair.”
“This is not rocket science,” Prosecutor See retorted. “He is a sex offender and he is required to register his address and his vehicles.”
Judge Williams began to recount Moton’s criminal history and quickly got lost in the dates and dispositions.
“I want to review what he’s charged with and what charges are pending,” Williams said. “Maybe he needs to have an evaluation to determine what course of action would be best. Is it that he doesn’t care or is he not criminally responsible? I’m going to find probable cause for the probation violation and order a psychological evaluation.”
Williams continued the case to Monday, Oct. 30.
Williams also continued the case against Ryan Conners, 31, of Fairmont. He was indicted on several charges including malicious assault, strangulation, wonton endangerment with a firearm and domestic battery.
Special prosecutor John Ours requested the judge order the defendant not to disseminate information about the victim.
Judge Williams issued a protective order with sanctions and sealed the records.
Defense counsel Jonie Nelson said a criminal culpability evaluation has not been done, but should be completed by mid-October.
Judge Williams scheduled a pre-trial hearing for Thursday, Nov. 16. “We will set a trial date on Nov. 16,” he said.
Judge Williams ordered Lucas Helmick, 30, of Moorefield released from jail pending an evaluation for the South Branch Valley Drug Court.