Moats presides over multiple plea agreements, bond revocations


TAYLOR COUNTY—When Taylor County Circuit Court convened last week, Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Alan D. Moats heard cases involving negotiated plea agreements and bond revocations.

During the hearings, Briston Edward Skidmore, 27, agreed to plead guilty to forgery of a public document, a charge that carries a potential sentence of two-to-ten years in a state penitentiary.

The defendant was originally indicted in September 2019 by the Taylor County Grand Jury for two counts of forgery of a public document, two counts of forgery and four counts of uttering.

As part of the negotiated plea agreement with the state, prosecutors would recommend that Skidmore’s sentence be held in abeyance, and he be placed on the Taylor County Community Corrections program. Furthermore, the state would agree to drop the remaining counts in the indictment against the defendant.

According to Prosecuting Attorney John Bord, Skidmore signed his brother’s name, Brandon Elmer Skidmore, to a criminal bail agreement in the presence of a Taylor County Magistrate.

“Because Mr. Skidmore had confessed to his crime and was very cooperative with the investigating office, West Virginia State Police Corporal Jeremy Daugherty, it was decided that the terms of the agreement were suitable,” said Bord. “After hearing the terms of the plea deal, the family was in agreement.”

Judge Moats accepted the agreement and ordered that Skidmore’s two-to-ten-year term would be held in abeyance, and he would carry it out on community corrections, per the state’s recommendation.

Bryan Allen Johnson, 29, of Grafton, was also present in court to present a negotiated plea agreement.

In the document, the defendant agreed to plead guilty to one count of driving while license suspended or revoked for driving while under the influence, third or subsequent offense.

He too had been indicted on the charge during the September 2019 Grand Jury term, and for his crime, he was facing a sentence of one-to-three years in prison and a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000.

For his guilty plea, the state would recommend that Johnson’s sentence be held in abeyance, and that he be place into the Taylor County Community Corrections Program.

Once again, because of the cooperation of the defendant, Moats accepted the negotiated plea agreement, and ordered that Johnson’s not less than one nor more than three year term be carried out on the corrections program. In addition, Johnson was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000.

In January 2020, Christopher Lee Larew, 37, of Tunnelton, was indicted by the Taylor County Grand Jury after he failed to appear before Judge Moats on previous charges.

With his new charge, Larew was facing an additional one-to-five-year term.

As part of the negotiated plea agreement, the state recommended that the sentence run concurrently with a previous sentence he had received in October 2019.

After pleading guilty in October to fleeing from a law enforcement official showing reckless indifference for the safety of others, he was sentenced to one-to-five-years in prison sentence and a $1,000 mandatory fine, to be served on the community corrections program.

According to Bord, because of Larew’s acceptance of his responsibility in the new charge, it was the recommendation of the state that his one-to-five-year sentence would be served at the same time he was carrying out his previous one-to-five-year term.

Again, Moats ordered in agreement with the plea deal, allowing both terms to be served at the same time.

Additionally, Charles Hallman and Heather R. Stevens were present in Taylor County Circuit Court to address bond revocations.

After failing to adhere to the terms of the community corrections, Stevens was ordered to carry out a 30-day sanction, before she would be allowed to resume her time on the program.

Hallman’s hearing was continued after it was reported to the court that his attorney had failed to go over the paperwork with his client.

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