TAYLOR COUNTY—The Taylor County Circuit Courtroom was packed on Thursday, as defendants and their families and loved ones awaited the outcome of numerous hearings.
During the day, Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Alan D. Moats heard numerous plea agreements. Among them were negotiations between the state of West Virginia and defendants Brittany Nicole Cottrill, Joseph P. Clark, Jr., William Nelson Snavely, Jr. and Jack F. Carper.
Brittany Nicole Cottrill, 24, was back in court to enter a guilty plea to felony conspiracy charges, for her actions in transporting a controlled substance onto the grounds of a correctional facility. For her actions, she could face not less than one nor more than five years in prison.
The state offered a recommendation that Cottrill’s sentence be held in abeyance and she be placed on the Taylor County Community Corrections program.
The prosecutor would then ask that she be allowed to transfer that sentence to the Wood County program and that she be drug tested during the duration of her time on community corrections.
During a course of regular questioning, Judge Moats asked if the defendant had taken any drug legal or illegal within 24-48 hours prior to her hearing, and she revealed she had.
Cottrill, who has previously been released on bond, admitted to Moats that she had not only smoked marijuana, but had also used methamphetamines the night before her hearing. She told the court that she was unsure of the amount.
Moats ordered that she be taken into custody by Taylor County Sheriff Terry A. Austin, who was instructed to transport her to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail until such time as the drugs were gone from her system.
“You clearly appear to have some type of impairment today. You do not appear to be clear-eyed, and I cannot allow you to enter a plea agreement while under the influence of drugs,” Moats told Cottrill. “Therefore, you are ordered to the regional jail until we can schedule another hearing for you.”
Joseph P. Clark Jr., 34, was present in court with his council Greg Michael to enter a negotiated plea agreement.
In the agreement Clark would plead guilty to failure to appear, a charge being entered by way of information by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The sentence would carry a one-to-five-year term, a fine of not more than $5,000 or both.
As part of the agreement, the state would recommend that Clark’s sentence be served concurrent with a sentence he was already serving, and that he would receive credit for time that he had already served for this offense.
“Joseph has been very cooperative in this matter, and I think we will all recall his extensive military history from his previous hearings. He served two tours in Iraq,” expressed Michael. “Mr. Clark has successfully completed a program through the VA Hospital. He has a letter of support from the VA and is ready to continue his treatment there.”
According to Michael the treatment would occur during a 49-day program through the facility and would help with his client’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“The state asks that he be admitted into the program at the VA,” said Prosecutor Christopher Miller.
Moats ordered that he would sentence Clark according to the recommendation of the state.
“I think I have helped you before. I gave you a chance and you blew it off. Now, Mr. Miller is willing to help you out,” Moats addressed Clark. “I don’t have a problem allowing you out to attend the program. However, once completed, I am ordering that you be returned to jail until I can receive a full report.”
After fleeing from officers in February 2018, William Nelson Snavley, Jr., 22, was back in court to enter a guilty plea for his actions. For his charged of fleeing from a law enforcement officer showing reckless indifference, he faced a possible one-to-five years in prison and a fine of $1,000-$2,000.
Snavely told the court that he does not recall completely his arrest or the next four days, because he was in a drug-induced state, but he said that from the little bit he could remember, he does not dispute the charges.
“I see that you have actually expressed your appreciation to Sheriff Austin for you arrest, because you realize you were on a path to destruction and you believe that had you not been stopped, the outcome would have been worse,” Moats said.
It was the order of the court that Snavely be sentenced to the one-to-five years and that the sentence would be held in abeyance and he would be placed on community corrections.
“You first came before me at 16 or 17, and I looked at you then as I look at you now. You have so much potential. You’re handsome and smart, although you make unwise decisions,” Moats said to Snavely. “You have taken responsibility and have expressed you want to make a change. I really think you can overcome this if you want to.”
Finally, Jack F. Carper, 54, was present in court to enter a guilty plea to third offense driving while under the influence.
Because the defendant had finally come to terms with his alcohol addiction and his family has expressed a willingness to help him seek treatment, Moats ordered that Carper would be sentenced to two-to-five years in prison, which would be held in abeyance and he would be placed on community corrections for alcohol treatment and monitoring.
He was ordered that he was not to be driving a vehicle and that the driver’s license that he has in his possession was to be turned over to Community Corrections Director Tammy Narog.
“If you violate the terms and are caught driving again, you will be going to prison,” Moats warned.