Hearings held via TEAMS to discuss sentences during pandemic

TAYLOR COUNTY—Multiple defendants were present via TEAMS meetings in Taylor County Circuit Court for bond revocation hearings.

Candy Tackett Nelson was back before Judge Alan D. Moats to address her failure to adhere to the stipulations of a sentence handed down by the court.

Back in December 2019 Nelson had previously entered a guilty plea to one count of forgery and was sentenced to one-to-ten years, to be served on the Taylor County Community Corrections Program.

That sentence was then transferred to the Preston County program. The defendant was granted admittance into a rehabilitation program for her drug addiction, but upon her completion, she was to report back to the program.

It was reported by Krista McDonald, Preston County Day Report Center Director, that Nelson had failed to report to the program since April 20, 2020. Because of that, she was asking the court to revoke her supervision and that Nelson be placed back in jail for the remainder of her sentence.

In the meantime, a capias was issued for Nelson’s arrest, but because she was not picked up on the warrant, she was indicted for an additional charge of felony escape during the September term of Taylor County Grand Jury.

Nelson told the court that she had completed the program, but because of the current COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of transportation, she was unable to report to Preston County’s Day Report Center.

“Clearly the rehabilitation program didn’t work,” Moats voiced to Nelson.

Nelson admitted to the court that she “slipped” once, but it was on the anniversary of her late husband’s death.

“Preston County suspicions that her failure to report was due to the continued use of drugs,” noted Taylor County Community Corrections Director Tammy Narog.

“Well, that is pretty clear,” expressed Moats. “Ms. Nelson just be honest with the court. It seems as if you haven’t addressed your drug addiction much at all.”

While he seemed disheartened, Moats ordered that if the defendant could get back into a drug rehabilitation program, he would once again allow her to try and seek assistance with her recovery.

“In the meantime, your supervision is being revoked and your one-to-ten-year sentence is reinstated,” Moats added. “As soon as a bed in rehab is secured, a bond will be issued, and an order will be submitted for your release to attend.”

Dennis W. Sheppard was also back before Moats to learn his fate after it was reported that he had continued to use drugs during his time on the Taylor County Community Corrections Program, while serving a one-to-five-year sentence for strangulation.

Narog revealed to the court that after Sheppard was released from jail on September 25 to begin serving on the program, he reported on September 28, but that was the last time he came into the office.

It was reported that the defendant was found by an officer with the Grafton Police Department passed out in his vehicle, and during that encounter he admitted to the use of methamphetamine a few days prior.

Following that incident, Sheppard was admitted to the hospital for surgery on October 5, but after a successful procedure, he was released that same day. Multiple attempts to contact the defendant went unanswered.

When a member of the community corrections staff conducted a home visit on October 14, the defendant was not home. Because they had not had any successful contact with Sheppard, Narog believed he had absconded from the program and requested that a capias be issued for his arrest.

The following day, Sheppard reportedly walked into the office and told Narog that he was working with the VA Hospital to get into a substance abuse program. During that visit, he was drug tested and the result was a positive screen for methamphetamine.

“He is willing to admit to the violations as presented, because of his drug issues,” said Sheppard’s Defense Attorney Scott Shough. “He is a veteran who has secured housing and treatment through the VA Hospital, but they do not have an exact date for him to start the program.”

Noting the severe pull that drugs can have on an addict, Moats ordered that Sheppard’s one-to-five-year term would be reinstated and that his supervision on the community corrections program would be revoked.

“If they are going to allow you into their program, I would be happy to allow it, but we need a date,” Moats voiced. “If you violate the terms of the program, you will go back to jail.”


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