By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
The Honorable Judge James Courrier presided over Tucker County Circuit Court on both Monday and Wednesday presiding over several hearings and scheduling trial dates. Monday afternoon the first hearing was recently sent from the Magistrate Court in the manner of Jessica Holden, charged with battery of and obstructing an officer. Holden is from California where she has a guardian and conservator, therefore District Attorney Morris Davis motioned for Holden to undergo mental and criminal responsibility evaluation. Morris informed the judge that Holden has diagnosis and is on medications he feels could have affected her mental status at the time of the alleged crime. Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora had no objection to these requests. Judge Courrier granted the motions of the defense and asks that those results be made known as soon as possible. Holden is currently out on bond from the Magistrate Court.
Mario Orellana, charged with two counts of conspiracy, took the stand with his attorney; Mark Gaydos, while representing the state of West Virginia was Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Frank Bush. Gaydos filed several motions before the judge, the first was to request the ability to file additional motions due to the “murky copy of the search warrant” he received. The defense is concerned over a potential address discrepancy. Another motion was made to sequester the testifiers and requested accesses to criminal records of the victims testifying. Bush suggested he be granted background checks only, to which Judge Courrier agreed. The final motion was to request Orellana be provided an interpreter for the trial as well as his citizenship not be taken into consideration or questioned by the witnesses. Gaydos noted he himself has never asked and is unaware of his legality in this country. Bush suggested a two day trial date be set with Gaydos preferring a three day slot be scheduled due to the number of witnesses. The trial date for Orellana has been set for April 1 through 3 with his pretrial date being held March 12 at 10:30 a.m.
Charged with second offense domestic battery, Jason Brickles appeared before Judge Courrier alongside his attorney, Aaron Yoho. LaMora suggested the court set a one day trial for this case with Yoho requesting a bench trial versus a jury trial. Both attorneys will be contacting the guardian ad litum in this case to come to an agreement over this request. A pretrial date has been set for January 16 at 9:30 a.m. to determine which trial Brickles will be granted, with the trial set for January 27 at 9 a.m.
The final hearing of Monday was in the matter of David Stover who is charged with two felonies of wanton endangerment involving a firearm and assault during commission of/or attempt to commit a felony, as well as the misdemeanor of unlawful restraint. Attorney Yoho informed the court he has scheduled Stove to partake in a psychiatric evaluation which is scheduled for mid January and until those results are received, the status is at a standstill. Judge Courrier requested those results to be made available as soon as possible in order to move forward with this matter.
Judge Courrier returned on Wednesday for an additional circuit court day in Tucker County beginning with Tracey Elza. She is charged with three counts of prescription fraud and three counts of uttering, both of which are felonies. Her, along with her council, Mr. Fuellhart were both present to set a pretrial hearing for January 8 at 10:30 a.m. with a jury trial set for March 4 at 9 a.m.
Joshua Swisher appeared next for his arraignment with his defense attorney, Brent Easton. Swisher is charged with two counts of grand larceny and two counts of conspiracy. The reading of the indictment was waived and the minutes from the grand jury will be granted. Swisher is currently out on bond. Discovery was granted to both the prosecution and defense with a suppression hearing set for February 11 at 1:15 p.m.
The last criminal hearing of the day was that of Emily Heckler, charged with first degree murder. Both parties requested to set a trial date, which Judge Courrier complied. A three day trial has been set for April 22, 23, and 24. A motion for additional funding was also requested to obtain a defense expert. Dr. Rush from Wheeling will be retained as the additional expert with no objection by LaMora. Photographs of the crime scene that LaMora wished to submit to the trial were viewed in the judge’s chambers. This gave the defense attorneys Easton and Cooper the opportunity to object for various reasons. It is now up to the judge to determine which photos he feels is appropriate to submit and which will be denied
Evaluations of Heckler’s mental status have been conducted with controversial results. Dr. Clayman found that there was diminished capacity and could not consent to Heckler giving a statement, however Dr. Saar gave a different opinion on both issues. A pretrial date has been set for April 9 at 10 a.m. Motions and expert findings will be brought to the court on February 11 at 1:45 p.m.
The Honorable Judge James Courrier will return in early January, 2020.