TAYLOR COUNTY—Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Alan D. Moats had a busy day in Taylor County Circuit Court last week, as numerous defendants entered into negotiated plea agreements with the state.
William Shahan, 50, was back in court to address charges stemming from an August 2017 incident.
He agreed to plead guilty to fleeing in a vehicle from law enforcement officials showing reckless indifference to others, a charge that could potentially land him in prison for one to five years and see him paying a mandatory fine of between $1,000-$2,000.
As part of the agreement, the state would recommend that Shahan’s sentence be held in abeyance and that he be placed in the Taylor County Community Corrections program, without an objection of it being transferred to the Preston County program.
During the hearing, Shahan admitted that in August 2017, Grafton Police Department Patrolman Paul Collins attempted to stop him on West Main Street. Instead of complying, the defendant fled from the officer at a high rate of speed, traveling approximately two miles before an abrupt stop.
“We started on Main Street, and I went up beside the [Elizabeth Cather] Towers. I kept going up by Bluemont Cemetery, out on Route 50, back down Knotts Avenue and then hit a wall,” Shahan recalled.
Even after striking the wall, he attempted to flee on foot. Shahan told the court he had no specific reason for his actions.
“Honestly, I just panicked,” he revealed. “I was scared and took off.”
Taylor County Assistant Prosecutor Keith Skeen shared with the court that there was no claim in the police report of drug or alcohol use, or that the defendant had anything illegal on him or in the vehicle he was driving.
Taylor County Community Corrections Director Tammy Narog also noted that she had been in contact with the Preston County program, and they reported that there had been no issues with Shahan on their program, that they said he was doing really well.
Moats ordered that the plea would be accepted, and that Shahan’s sentence of one-to-five years would be served on Preston County Community Corrections. He was further ordered to pay a mandatory fine of $1,000.
Joined by her council, Ryan Shreve, Holly Minard was back in court to admit fault in her case. The 35-year-old plead guilty to attempted fraudulent used of an access device. She faced one-to-three years in prison or a fine of not more than $500 and one year in a regional jail.
The state recommended that her sentence be suspended and that she be placed on probation.
According to Moats, Minard attempted to open an AT&T account with a visa card that did not belong to her, in February 2018.
“Ms. Minard has taken steps to better her life. She has had time to evaluate her actions and feels as though she can be a success story if she is allowed to serve on an alternative sentence,” Shreve addressed the court.
For her actions, Minard’s one-to-three-year prison sentence was suspended and she was placed on probation for three years. She was further ordered to pay restitution to her victim.
Ory Scott Newbrough, 30, agreed to plead guilty to the attempted transport of a controlled substance onto the grounds of a correctional facility, being filed by way of information by the Taylor County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
The charge carries a one-to-three-year prison term or a fine of not more than $500 and not less than six months to one year in a regional jail.
As part of the plea agreement, the defense would be asking that Newbrough’s sentence be effective February 2017, and that it be served concurrently with time he is serving for a parole violation.
According to court documents, Newbrough attempted to take Suboxone strips into the Pruntytown Correctional Center, while on parole, in February 2017. He was arrested in March and served a year’s time for the parole violation.
After making parole again in January 2018, he was ordered to attend rehab, and was terminated from the program. His bond was violated in November 2018, and he was placed back in prison. The defendant was once again released on bond June 7, 2019.
Moats raised concern with backdating his sentence to February 2017.
“He was in jail for 16 months, and you are asking that I order credit for 32 months,” Moats voiced.
“I know that there is some issue with how to calculate that time,” Shreve noted. “Mr. Newbrough has been attending NA meetings since he was released in June, he is gainfully employed, working 40 hours a week and has been consistently drug tested and has passed.”
Moats said he was not comfortable crediting Newbrough with credit for time served. It was his order that he would be sentenced to one-to-three years in prison, and that because he was seeming to do well on bond, he would hold his sentence in abeyance and would place Newbrough on community corrections to be transferred to Harrison County.
Shawn Smallwood had previously entered a guilty plea to unlawful restraint and domestic battery, both misdemeanors, in Taylor County Circuit Court on March 5, but because of some issues with the plea, Moats had taken the negotiations under advisement.
Last week, he was back in court to address the negotiated plea deal.
Moats ordered that after investigating the matter further, he would agree to accept the terms of the agreement, and sentenced Smallwood to one year for each charge served consecutively with one another.
“I am ordering that you will be given credit for time served, and with good time that comes to two years of time served,” Moats said. “I am signing an order that you be released from jail today for the completion of your sentence.”
Ricky J. Sylva, 40, was in court to enter a guilty plea to person prohibited from possessing a firearm. Sylva who had been convicted in 1998 was found in possession of a .40 caliber pistol in February 2018.
The defendant could be fined not less than one $100 nor more than $1,000 or confined in the regional jail for not less than ninety days nor more than one year, or both.
Moats ordered that Sylva would serve 11 months in jail, and because he had already served five-and-a-half years, with good time credit, he had met the 11-month sentence. Sylva’s sentence was discharged, and he was released.