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Supreme Court Affirms Gilmer County Decision about Willard Cottrill’s Estate

The Gilmer Free Press

The WV Record Reports:

Because the intentions in his will were clear enough, the state Supreme Court has ruled a Gilmer County woman may continue to reside in the home she shared with her former companion.

In a 4-1 decision, the court affirmed the ruling Gilmer Circuit Judge Jack Alsop made in August 2012 granting summary judgment to Ruth Mitchell in a suit to quiet title brought by the estate and heirs of Willard Cottrill.

In a memorandum opinion issued October 18, two days shy of the third anniversary of Cottrill, 73, dying suddenly and under suspicious circumstances, the court said the effort by the estate’s executor, Michael Murphy, Cottrill’s son-in-law, and the heirs to eject Mitchell from the modular home she shared with Cottrill on his 42-acre property in Linn is “wholly inconsistent,” with his last will and testament.

Memorandum opinions are issued by the court in cases that present no new issues of law and would not be aided by oral argument. Chief Justice Brent Benjamin cast the dissenting vote.

According to court records, Cottrill’s will was admitted into probate on November 05, 2010. In it, he directed that a residence be provided for Mitchell “for so long as she chooses to reside, with this provision becoming void should she at any time choose or need to live elsewhere.”

Cottrill also specified that Mitchell’s “residency shall not preclude divestiture of the property by my heirs, and is not intended to establish a life tenancy.” Furthermore, he “direct[ed] that income from the rental units on my property be used for taxes and upkeep of the remainder of the property including the unit occupied by Ruth Mitchell, and the parcel referenced in the above provision.”

On June 17, 2011, Murphy, along with his wife, Venita, and her brothers Mark and Alan Cottrill, residents of Syracuse, N.Y., filed suit seeking an order to compel Mitchell to “vacate the premises.”

However, on August 21, 2012, the eve of a trial date in the case, Alsop granted Mitchell’s motion for summary judgment recognizing, as Cottrill specified in his will, she had a right to reside on the property so long as she desired.

In affirming Alsop’s decision, the court clarified that Mitchell’s residence is no way construed to be a life estate or tenancy. Regardless, ordering her out of the dwelling she’s called home for the last decade would go against Cottrill’s express wishes.

“The relief [the estate and the heirs] sought beyond clear title – this is, ejectment – is wholly inconsistent with [Cottrill’s] directive that [Mitchell] be provided a residence,” the court said.

“Inasmuch as the circuit court was called upon to construe Mr. Cottrill’s will in this action to quiet title, it appropriately followed the tenant of this Court: ‘The cardinal principle in construing a will is to ascertain the intent of the testator as expressed in the wills and codicils, giving consideration to the surrounding circumstances.’”

The estate, and the heirs were represented by Staci N. Criswell with Dinsmore and Shohl. Mitchell was defended by Gassaway attorney Dan Grindo.

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals case number 12-1213

Gilmer Circuit Court case number 11-C-20

~~  Lawrence Smith - WV Record  ~~

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 10.18.13

The Gilmer Free Press

On Tuesday, October 15, 2013 Judge Jack Alsop appeared in Gilmer County for his regular monthly motion day.

Eight juvenile cases were heard:

•  Two were not reset for hearings

•  One was reset for Monday, January 13, 2014 at 9:00 AM

•  One at 9:10 AM

•  One was dismissed

•  One was reset for Tuesday, November 12, 2013 a t 10:45 AM

•  One for Monday, December 09, 2013 at 9:20 AM

•  One for Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 1:00 PM

•  Kenneth & Shirley Cooper vs. Edward & Cindy Messenger

The case was reset for pretrial on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 11:30 AM, with bench trial to be heard on Friday, December 06, 2013 at 9:00 AM.

The Coopers are represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway and the Messengers are represented by Shelly DeMarino of Glenville.

•  DC Petroleum vs. Christopher Haymond

A pre-trial hearing and motion for summary judgment was denied.

Trial remains set for Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 9:00 AM.

Plaintiffs are represented by James West Jr. of Clarksburg and R. Terry Butcher.

Defendant is represented by Paul Marteney.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Seth Johnson

He had a pretrial hearing and his trial remains set for Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 9:00 AM.

He is represented by Daniel Grindo.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Jamie Farrar

She entered a plea of guilty to child neglect creating risk of injury (count 1 of the indictment) and all other counts were dismissed.

Sentencing is set for 11:45 AM on Tuesday, November 12, 2013.

She was represented by Christina Flanigan of Buckhannon.

Her attorney also asked for permission for Farrar and her co-defendant to get married, and said motion was denied by the Court.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Joshua Hoover

He appeared by video from Huttonsville Correctional Center requesting credit for time served while on house arrest in his case.

Judge Alsop stated he would take it under advisement and investigate further, but stated he felt he had already given him the correct amount of time served.

Hoover was represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton.

On Wednesday, October 16, 2013 two juvenile hearings were heard and one was reset for Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 1 PM.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Mark Taylor

He was before the Court for sentencing upon his former plea of delivery of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a school.

Judge Alsop heard testimony from Taylor’s mother and his attorney, Daniel Grindo and Mark Taylor himself before sentencing him to not less than 1 nor more than 5 years in the penitentiary.

He also stated due to the fact the sale was within 1000 feet of a school Taylor must serve a minimum of 2 years before he will become eligible for parole.

Judge Alsop stated Taylor had a favorable plea agreement since one count was dismissed, and also since the prosecutor neglected to have his witnesses present for a probation revocation hearing the Judge dismissed that earlier.

If he had been represented on that charge he would have been facing consecutive charges.

Also Judge Alsop was disturbed that Taylor had a significant criminal history.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Larry Lilly

He was late for Court and Judge Alsop directed the clerk to issue a bench warrant for his incarceration in jail without bond.

After the Clerk had issued the warrant and Deputy Sheriff John Moss had served it upon the defendant, Judge Alsop reconsidered and heard the pretrial in Lilly’s case.

His trial remains on the docket for Tuesday, October 29, 2013 and he was ordered detained in jail pending trial of the matter.

Lilly was also represented by Daniel Grindo.

On Friday, October 18, 2013 Judge Alsop heard one juvenile case in Circuit Court.

•  One criminal case was reset because the attorney’s father was hospitalized.

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 10.23.13

The Gilmer Free Press

On October 23, 2013 Family Court Judge Larry Whited appeared in Gilmer County Familt Court.

One divorce was granted: Susan Adkins (41) of Upper Tract, WV divorcing James Adkins (50) of Sand Fork, WV.

One modification was also heard with no order being entered.

Area Individuals Sentenced and Convicted in Federal Court

The Gilmer Free Press

•  LEONARD ROUNDS, age 36, an inmate at FCI Gilmer entered a plea of guilty to “Attempted Possession of a Prohibited Object” when staff members discovered suboxone strips hidden inside a card mailed to inmate ROUNDS, and was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment to run concurrently with his current 130-month sentence.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon S. Flower and investigated by the Special Investigative Services Staff at FCI Gilmer.

•  ROBERT VAUGHN BARNETTE II, age 28, of Weston, West Virginia, was named in a 17-Indictment charging him with “Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Methamphetamine and Pseudoephedrine.”

In addition to the conspiracy charge, other charges include “Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premise,” “Possession of Material Used to Manufacture Methamphetamine,” “Possession of Pseudoephedrine to be Used in the Manufacture of Methamphetamine,” and “Attempt to Possess Pseudoephedrine to be Used in the Manufacture of Methamphetamine.”

BARNETTE faces up to twenty years in prison on the conspiracy, premise, and possession charges; and up to ten years in prison on the possession of material charge.

This case was investigated by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department.

Company Allowed to Fight Loss of $25K Bond in Dispute with Town of Clay

The Gilmer Free Press

The WV Record Reports:

The state Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded a lower court decision in which a construction company in a dispute with the Town of Clay was ordered to forfeit a $25,000 bond it put up for an injunction that it later voluntarily dismissed.

In an Oct. 4 per curiam decision, the high court stated that the lower court’s award of the $25,000 bond to the Town of Clay for attorneys fees incurred in defending itself from a claim by Multiplex Inc. was improper because the plaintiffs weren’t granted an opportunity to dispute the court’s assessment.

The appellate case stems from a dispute that arose between Multiplex, a construction company contracted to provide renovations for a water treatment plant, and the Town of Clay.

In its initial lawsuit, Multiplex alleged that it was unable to proceed with work at the plant because a project engineer had not provided it with required information and that there were issues of delayed compensation.

The Gilmer Free Press
Clay County Courthouse

In response, the Town of Clay alleged that Multiplex walked away from the job without cause.

In December, 2010, Multiplex filed for a preliminary injunction in the Circuit Court of Clay County against the Town to prevent it from declaring default against the company.

The court granted a temporary injunction against the town requiring Multiplex to put up a $25,000 bond, of which only 10 percent needed to be posted.

The court eventually referred the matter to a special commissioner for mediation. Shortly after, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case and the court lifted the injunction against the Town.

Less than a week later, the Town of Clay filed a motion seeking to forfeit the injunction bond and recover money for attorneys fees and sanctions totaling $47,186.08, alleging that Multiplex’s lawsuit was brought in bad faith.

As the matter proceeded before the special commissioner, Multiplex sought invoices and checks laying out the attorneys costs and payments, which the Town resisted, citing attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine.

The special commissioner then required the Town to provide itemized invoices.

After reviewing the invoices, the special commissioner recommended to the court that “any recompense to the Town of Clay should be limited to the amount of the Multiplex injunction bond, as Multiplex has not been shown to have acted in bad faith that additional sanctions should be imposed beyond that said bond.”

The circuit court adopted the recommendations and ordered the bond forfeited. Multiplex appealed the decision.

In its review, the state Supreme Court wrote that “because there was no hearing either before the special commissioner or the circuit court, and therefore no way for the petitioners to cross examine or otherwise meaningfully contest the Town’s proffered evidence, there was nothing on which either the commissioner or the court could base findings of fact sufficient to permit meaningful review. Accordingly, the case must be remanded for the taking of evidence and the resolution of any material issues of fact.”

~~  T.K. Kim - The WV Record ~~

Alleged Rape Victim’s Case Against Glenville State Dismissed

The Gilmer Free Press

The WV Record Reports:

A lawsuit against Glenville State College for an allegedly botched rape investigation has been dismissed from federal court.

Daniel Bell, Director and Chief of Public Safety of Glenville State College; Jayde Layne; Kala Fisher; Jordan Watkins; Erietta Patrianakos; and John and/or Jane Does 1-20 were also named as defendants in the suit.

On October 08, 2013, the court held a hearing on the pending motions of the defendants to dismiss the complaint filed by Amanda L. Smith, and the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, according to an order filed October 10, 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia at Clarksburg.

“Paragraph 98 of plaintiff’s complaint does set out the elements of a battery claim when it states that defendant Layne ‘did unlawfully and intentionally [make] physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the plaintiff and caused physical harm to the plaintiff.’ However, plaintiff’s complaint fails to state how… Layne’s actions meet the elements of battery,” a memorandum in support of a motion to dismiss filed August 14 states.

“The only other allegation made against (Layne) states that… Layne had been uncooperative with the investigation, refused to identify students in the rooms and had changed her statement regarding the incident and violated the Student Code of Conduct.”

None of these allegations “come close to alleging any type of action that satisfies elements of battery. Handing a drink to a person is not battery. There is no unlawful physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature in the act of handling a drink to a person. There are no allegations that this drink caused any damage to the plaintiff. Helping a person get to a shower is not battery. There is no unlawful physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature in the act of helping a person get to a shower,” the memorandum states.

On September 18, 2010, Smith, who was then a sophomore at Glenville, returned from her on-campus job to her dorm room at Goodwin Hall and was in there approximately one hour when she received a text message from Michael McHenry, a fellow student, asking if she wanted to go out for ice cream, according to a complaint filed September 17, 2012, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia at Clarksburg.

About that same time, Layne, another student, knocked on Smith’s door requesting help in the dorm’s laundry room. However, Layne agreed to join Smith and McHenry for ice cream. They were accompanied by Watkins, Patrianakos, and several “unidentified students.”

After returning to Goodwin Hall between 5:30 and 6:00 PM, Smith alleges Layne and another student, Fisher, asked if she would get McHenry to buy them alcohol. When Smith declined, Fisher and Layne then asked Patrianakos, who agreed.

According to the suit, Patrianakos then took the alcohol to Watkins’ room and left to be with her boyfriend. Shortly thereafter, Smith joined other students, including Layne in Watkins’ room.

About 8:30 PM, Smith says she left to help her roommate carry groceries to their room on the second floor. Upon returning to Watkins’ room, Smith says she found additional students present, including “unknown black males mixing drinks.”

Later around 9:00 PM Smith says Layne, who’d previously been mixing drinks in the bathroom, offered her a plastic cup. After consuming the unspecified contents of half of it, Layne brought her a different cup.

Sometime between then and 10:00 PM, the suit maintains Smith appeared she was having a “mild seizure” after becoming nauseous “with alternating bouts of vomiting and urinating, crying and screaming.” Sometime thereafter, she says she became unconscious.

According to the suit, someone removed Smith’s clothes, leaving her in only her bra and panties. Upon discovering her disrobed and unconscious, Layne, Patrianakos and Fisher put Smith in the shower, the suit says.

Sometime after 10:00 PM, Andrew Lewis, Goodwin Hall’s resident director, heard Smith screaming and went to Watkins’ room to investigate. After arriving, he was joined by Travis Nesbitt, a student in an adjoining room, in giving first aid to Smith.

At 10:09 PM, Lewis called campus police requesting medical assistance for Smith. Twelve minutes later, Officer William Boone called for an ambulance.

An ambulance arrived at an unspecified time to take Smith to Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston. According to the suit, Nesbitt accompanied Smith, and observed her “holding her hands between her legs, stating “‘it hurts.’”

Upon arrival at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, Smith was placed in the intensive care unit. An initial examination of Smith allegedly discovered “a bodily fluid ‘pouring out’ of [her] vag**a that ‘was not supposed to be there together with bruising on [her] thigh and arm.”

A toxicology report revealed Smith had a blood alcohol content of .236, and the presence of benzodiazepine in her system, the suit says. In her suit, Smith avers she was not taking any medication containing benzodiazepine, and only consumed half of the drink Layne gave her.

Because she did not regain full consciousness until sometime the next morning, a sexual assault examination was performed in Smith later that afternoon, the suit says. The examination revealed, among other things, bruising on Smith’s left shin, knee, upper arm and hip, the suit says.

Also, the examination allegedly discovered Smith had “a large amount of mucus/discharge from her vag**a that was ‘white/yellow’ in color in spite of the negative findings of vag**itis and the appearance of bacteria in her vag**a opening.” Furthermore, a nurse allegedly told Smith’s mother “This should not be there” when showing her a swab of the substance removed from Smith’s vag**a.

The suit accuses GSC officials, specifically Bell, of “failing to follow protocol routine in sexual assault cases.” This includes the “lack of safeguarding and storing of evidence [and] properly securing a crime scene.”

According to the suit, campus police failed to collect both the bed sheets in Watkins’ room and the clothes he used to dress Smith after she threw-up on herself before they were laundered. Also, the cups used to mix and serve the drinks were destroyed before they could be collected, the suit says.

Additionally, the suit alleges an investigatory notebook kept by Bell was “accidentally placed in a washing machine and destroyed.” Furthermore, Bell “showed minimal training” when he accused Smith of “placing the bruises found on her body herself,” she claims.

According to the suit, the inability of campus police to timely collect evidence was a result of no certified law enforcement officer being on duty at the time Lewis called them for help. The investigation did not begin until Glenville Police Sgt. Casey Jones arrived at a time not specified, the suit says.

Any investigation into who might have raped Smith was hindered by Layne, Watkins, Patrianakos and Fisher refusing to cooperate with police, the suit says. According to the suit, they “have refused to identify students in the room and have changed their statements.”

Following her alleged attack, Smith says she attempted to complete her classes that semester. However, due to harassment by Layne, Fisher, Watkins, Patrianakos and other students, who are named as co-defendants in the suit, Smith says she found not only attending classes, but also living in Goodwin Hall difficult.

Assurances college administrators made to “implement reasonable accommodations” for her to finish her classes, Smith said, were not kept, the suit says. After receiving a letter dated October 07, 2010, from the college’s provost that she would most likely receive failing grades in her classes, Smith decided to withdraw.

According to her suit, college officials continued to display insensitivity toward her after she withdrew. Bell, Lewis and Jerry Burkhammer II, the dean of student affairs, were all no-shows for a meeting with Smith and her parents when she returned to campus to retrieve some personal belongings from her dorm room, she says.

In the two years since she was attacked, Smith says there have been other sexual assaults taken place on campus. Though she does not provide specifics, Smith says due to “a lack of investigatory technique and result” similar to what happened in her case, the other women “are considering filing separate claims against [GSC].”

As a result of her attack, the failure of campus police to properly investigate it and the harassment she received afterwards, Smith alleges she’s suffered “severe and permanent psychological damage, emotional distress and decreased educational opportunities.” Along with ones for civil rights violations, she makes claims for failure to train, retaliation, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Smith was seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She was represented by E. Lavoyd Morgan Jr.

Layne was represented by Kevin W. Hughart of Hughart Law Office. Fisher was represented by Steven B. Nanners. Glenville and Bell were represented by David J. Mincer.

The case was assigned to District Judge Irene M. Keeley.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia at Clarksburg case number: 1:12-cv-00147

~~  Kyla Asbury - The WV Record ~~

Couple Sue Roane General Hospital for Medical Malpractice

The Gilmer Free Press

The WV Record reports:

A couple are suing Hospital Development Co. for injuries allegedly caused by its facility and employees.

Hospital Development Co. is doing business as Roane General Hospital. Drs. Daniel B. Prudich and Maria L. Kessell were also named as defendants in the suit.

On August 18, 2011, Sandra Ellis presented to the emergency department of Roane General, complaining of pain and swelling in her right lower leg over the previous five to seven days, according to a complaint filed September 12 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Ellis claims Prudich treated her and diagnosed her with right leg edema and advised her to follow-up with her primary care physician, Kessell.

On August 31, Ellis presented to Roane General to follow up with Kessell and Kessell indicated the presence of peripheral edema and prescribed Ellis a diuretic, ordered an echocardiogram and chest x-ray and instructed her to follow up in one month, according to the suit.

Ellis claims she was examined three times between September 10, 2011, and September 25, 2011, in Roane General’s emergency department or by Kessell, and on September 27, 2011, a referral was given for a vascular surgeon named Dr. Patrick Stone, as Ellis’ “current visit problem” was indicated to be Peripheral Vascular Disease.

On October 17, 2011, Ellis presented to Charleston Area Medical Center’s emergency department, complaining of foot pain and a foot infection, according to the suit.

Ellis claims an examination of the right foot showed “clear evidence of deep necrosis with foul smell coming from her foot.”

On October 19, 2011, a below-the-knee amputation was performed on Ellis’ right leg and on October 24, 2011, an above-the-knee amputation of her right leg was performed, according to the suit.

Ellis claims the defendants owed her a duty to skillfully, prudently and thoroughly diagnose, care, treat, advise and observe her in such a manner as would reasonably prudent physicians who were confronted with and by similar conditions and circumstances.

Ellis and her husband, Paul Ellis, are seeking compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by W. Stuart Calwell Jr., Melissa H. Luce and Benjamin D. Adams of the Calwell Practice PLLC.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 13-C-1737

~~  Kyla Asbury - The WV Record  ~~

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 10.03.13

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, October 02, 2013 the petit jurors reported to Circuit Court and a jury was impaneled in the case of State of West Virginia vs. Gary P. Ferrell.

The prosecuting attorney, Gerry Hough gave his opening statement and the trial began at 9:55 AM with the remaining jurors being excused for the day.

Testimony was taken and the state rested its case before 11:00 AM.

After instructions were given by the Court and closing arguments were made by both sides, the jury went to deliberate upon a verdict at 11:15 AM.

At 12:03 PM the jurors returned to the Court room with a NOT GUILTY verdict.

On Thursday, October 03, 2013 a felony jury trial was also set in the case of State of West Virginia vs. Darren Marbury.

However, prior to trial the State dismissed the felony and filed a misdemeanor information against Marbury charging unlawful shooting at another in street, alley or public resort to which he pled guilty.

He was thereafter released from home confinement and the Court ordered a presentence investigation to be conducted by the probation officer.

Sentencing will be 11:15 AM on Tuesday, November I2, 2013.

Defendant was represented by his hired attorney Lance Rollo of Charleston.

Three fugitives were also in Court on Thursday, October 03, 2013.

They were all represented by Drannon Adkins of Sissonville.

They all waived extradition to their states as follows:

Maurice Green and Nathaniel Owens both waived to return to Maryland while Emery Ligon Jr. waived to return to the state of Ohio.

Authorities have until 4:00 PM on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 to pick these inmates up or Central Regional Jail will release them.

Lastly a wrongful occupation appeal hearing from Magistrate Court was later set to be but Judge Alsop removed Daniel Grindo from being counsel for the defendant, due to a conflict and reset the mater for Friday, January 03, 2014 at 9:00 AM for further hearing.

There will be no more Court until Tuesday, October 15, 2013 when Judge Alsop will conduct his motion day.

The week of October 07, 2013 is judicial conference for Judges in West Virginia.

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Gilmer County Family Court Report – 10.09.13

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, October 09, 2013 Family Court Judge Larry Whited was in Gilmer County with 6 cases on his docket.

•  Two domestic violence orders were terminated.

•  Two divorces were continued.

Two divorces were granted:

•  Amanda L. Helmick (34) of Grantsville, WV divorced Scott Helmick (39) of Burnsville, WV.

•  Harlin A. Campbell (22) of Glenville, WV divorced Ashley Campbell (24) of Weston, WV.

Trial for Two Charged in Lewis County Baby’s Death Is Set for January

The Gilmer Free Press

A January trial is set for two people charged in the death of a 15-month-old boy in Lewis County.

Twenty-five-year-old Christopher Thomas Sheppard of Hepzibah in Harrison County is charged with child abuse resulting in death.

The child’s mother, 30-year-old Julia Mick, is charged with child neglect resulting in death.

Investigators say Sheppard was baby-sitting at a Jane Lew apartment and left Mick’s son, Rex Mick, unattended in a bath.

The boy fell out of the sink, landed on his head and later died.

Sheppard and Mick’s trial is set to begin January 21, 2014.

Randolph County prosecutor Michael Parker is serving as special prosecutor for the case.

Report: West Virginia Community Corrections Succeeding

The Gilmer Free Press

A new report says community corrections programs in West Virginia are succeeding at keeping nonviolent offenders out of prisons and jails.

Between July 01, 2012 and June, 30, 2013, 3,862 offenders were placed in the programs, which are offered in 49 of the state’s 55 counties, according to the Community Corrections Act Fiscal 2013 report.

More than 1,400 offenders successfully completed assigned counseling and training programs.

A total 3,364 offenders stopped participating in the programs in the 2013 fiscal year, the report said.

They may have been remanded to state prisons or regional jails for violations, or may have completed their sentences without finishing the programs.

The most common crimes for offenders placed in community corrections are drug-related charges, larceny, embezzlement, fraud or forgery, driving under the influence, domestic battery, and public intoxication, the report said.

The programs, enacted in 2001, allow judges to sentence nonviolent offenders to day reporting centers.

The centers provide counseling, adult education and/or job training. Offenders also participate in community service projects, including litter pickup, snow removal and work at nursing homes.

Judges, by and large, are very enthusiastic about community corrections, and about certain people going that way.

It is difficult to estimate the programs’ cost-savings, according to officials.
A Supreme Court Administrator said community corrections’ real value is the comparatively low repeat-offender rate for those who complete the programs.

“They learn how to control their impulses. They learn how to control their anger, and they learn to choose their friends a little better,“ said the Administrator, who is a longtime advocate of community corrections.

Community corrections programs received more than $1.5 million in grants and $5 million in budget appropriations in the fiscal 2013 year.

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 09.25.13

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, September 25, 2013 Family Court Judge Larry Whited was in Gilmer County.

•  One divorce was dismissed.

Two divorces were granted between:

•  Stacey Stull (24) of Linn, WV divorced Jasper Stull (25)of Sanford, NC.

•  Cynthia Barker (53) of Glenville, WV divorced Richard Dale Barker (59) of Troy, WV.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 09.27.13

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, September 25, 2013, Judge Alsop took 3 pleas and reduced home confinement fees in a magistrate case.

•  Rebecca Johnson was before the Court asking that her home confinement daily fee be reduced, and after testimony was reduced.

Judge Alsop lowered it to $6.00 per day.

She was represented by Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Brandon Rose

He was before the court for entry of a plea.

He pled guilty to failure to register on a computer being a sex offender required to register for life.

Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon represented him.

He will be sentenced Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 10:00 AM.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Michael Puffenbarger

He also pled to grand larceny.

He was represented by Christopher Pritt of Charleston

He is asking to be sentenced to Anthony Center for Youth Offenders.

His sentencing will be 10:10 AM on Tuesday, November 12, 2013.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Barry Hamner

He was represented by Garth Beck of Clarksburg

He pled to possession of precursors.

He will be sentenced Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 10:20 AM.

•  The civil matter set for 09.25.13 was cancelled and an agreed order will be submitted for signing.


On Friday, September 27, 2013, Judge Alsop heard 6 cases in Gilmer County, WV.

•  One juvenile was reset to Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 8:45 AM, because the DHHR was not prepared for the hearing.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Mark Taylor

He pled to delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (meth) within 1000 feet of a school.

He was represented by Daniel Armstrong in place of Daniel Grindo.

Count 2 of his indictment was dismissed as pan of the plea bargain agreement.

Sentencing will be at 1:00 PM, on Wednesday, October 16, 2013.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Larry Lilly

He was before the Court for motion to revoke bond.

However, Gerald B. Hough, the prosecutor was not ready to present evidence on that matter and the motion was denied.

Daniel Armstrong represented Lilly.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Stacy Bright

She pled guilty to one count of financial exploitation of an elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult as charged in count 1 of the indictment.

She agreed to pay $6262.23 in restitution and will be sentenced on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 10:30 AM.

Daniel Armstrong was her attorney.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Darren Marbury

He was before the Court for a pre-trial and currently his trial is still set for Thursday, October 03, 2013.

He is represented by Lance Rollo.

•  Also before the court for pre-trial was Lucas Buckhannon who was represented by Jonathan Fittro.

His trial remains set for Friday, October 18, 2013.

G-otcha™: Webster County Triple Murderer Get Life Sentence

Imprisonment Status:  Pre-Trial Felon
Full Name: York,  Michael Steve
Height: 5’  10"
Weight: 170 lbs.
Birth Date: 12.25.1957
Gender: Male
Booking Date: 06.28.2012
Facility: Central Regional Jail
Imprisonment Status: Pre-Trial Felon

Offender Court Order Information

Court Info Number Issuing Agency Location
12F-93-96 WEBSTER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $0.00
This man has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison in what’s believed to be the first-ever triple murder in Webster County.

Michael York, of Hacker Valley, was sentenced after his September 20, 2013 conviction on two counts of first degree murder and one count of second degree murder.

York shot and killed Lamar Allen, Denise Coates and Dustin Brown in the summer of 2012.

Mercy was not recommended by the jury so a judge sentenced York to life in prison without the chance for parole.

The jury also found Michael York’s wife, Amanda York, guilty of three counts of voluntary manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to conceal a deceased body.

She will be sentenced November 04, 2013.

Prosecutor Vandevender said the shootings took place over a pair of appliances.

“They (the Yorks) alleged there had been an argument earlier in the day and the victims came to their house to repossess a washer and dryer they had given them,” the prosecutor said.

Amanda York initially called 911 and claimed she was the shooter but a young family member was overheard by a deputy saying it was Michael York that did the shooting.

Prosecutor Vandevender said that was a key part of the prosecution’s case.

A Braxton County jury convicted the couple after there was difficulty choosing a jury in Webster County
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