By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Tucker County Circuit Court was in session on Thursday, November 14 with the honorable Judge James Courrier preciding. The docket was full with several criminal hearings with a few abuse and neglect cases as well. First within the criminal cases were Ken Smith and Taylor Dilly. Both are charged with one count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and five counts of distribution of a controlled substance. The purpose of this gathering was a suppression hearing to hear the testimony of Chief Deputy M.J. Sigley and his execution of a search warrant. Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora called Sigley to the stand to recall his process in following through with the search warrant and collection of evidence. Following his testimony, Courrier found the warrant had been properly executed and the evidence seized would be admissible to court. Both Smith and Dilly are out on bond and will return on January 16 at 11 a.m. to continue their case.
Next on the docket, charged with murder, was Emily Heckler. Due to a medical issue, Heckler was unable to be transported for her hearing and will be continued at a later date.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Frank Bush served for the State of West Virginia against Mario Orellana, charged with two counts of conspiracy. This hearing served as his arraignment and Orellana remains out on bond. Bush also served as prosecution against Josh Swisher, an accomplice to Orellana. Swisher, also out on bond is charged with two counts of conspiracy and two counts of grand larceny. Due to his failure to show for his appointed court time, his arraignment will be set for a later date.
LaMora took back over the prosecution in the case against Mathew Brogan, who is charged with felonies of fleeing an officer with reckless indifference, breaking and entering, and two counts of possession of a stolen vehicle. In addition, Brogan is charged with a misdemeanor as a person prohibited of possessing a firearm. Due to his failure to attend, LaMora requested a bench warrant to be established for his immediate arrest.
Steven Moore, former Executive Director of the Tucker County Solid Waste Authority, was present before Judge Courrier on six counts of embezzlement and one count of fraudulent schemes, all of which are felonies. Defense Attorney Yoho requested a continuance to allow him time to work through the voluminous amount of evidence. LaMora noted a pretrial resolution is being discussed, however he expects a trial date to be set upon Moore’s return on January 16, 2020 at 10:30 a.m.
Next on the docket was Charles McCrum with felony charges including five counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, five counts of first degree sexual assault, and ten counts of sexual abuse by a parent/guardian/person of trust. Defense Attorney Yoho requested more time to become more familiar with the case, which was granted until January 16 at 10:45 a.m.
Tracey Elza was set to appear for a status hearing; however, there was miscommunication between the parties on the scheduled time. She will return on December 11 at 10:15 a.m. where LaMora expects a trial date to be set. Elza is charged with three counts of prescription fraud and three counts of uttering.
James Ferguson, currently residing within the Department of Corrections, was scheduled to appear, however his attorney had a scheduling conflict and had to reschedule for a later date.
Ferguson was in the company of Brogan when he was arrested and charged with two counts of burglary, breaking and entering, grand larceny, fleeing with reckless indifference, and possession of a stolen vehicle, which are all felonies. He is also charged with misdemeanors of fleeing causing damage, destruction of property, and two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer.
Also out on bond, Lester Mook appeared with Defense Attorney Pat Nichols. Mook’s charges consist of grand larceny, receiving/transferring/concealing stolen property, and possession of a stolen vehicle. Nichols filed a motion and argued that the VIN number on the camper was improperly obtained by the law enforcement officer. Courrier requested both Nichols and LaMora to submit their briefing prior to the next hearing on January 16 at 2:15 p.m. when Courrier will then hear their verbal arguments as well. He will then rule on that motion.
Nichols also argued that the grand larceny and possession of stolen vehicle indictments are confusing and that they should be consolidated into one charge due to them involving the same item. Courrier will address this at the next hearing as well.
Finally, the last criminal case on the docket was that of Jason Brickles, charged with strangulation and domestic battery, second offense. A motion was filed by his Defense Attorney Yoho who brought to the attention of Courrier that the judge in the abuse and neglect case dismissed the case due to lack of evidence, suggesting the criminal charges should be dropped as well. LaMora disagreed stating different approaches and different evidence would be taken in the criminal hearing than that of the abuse and neglect and feels the hearings should proceed. Courrier agreed and will be moving forward with Brickles case with no limitations. This hearing also served as a suppression hearing where Sgt. C.D. Siler testified on the date he took the statement of the defendant and the manner he did so.
Courrier found the statement was properly taken and will be admitted to court.
This concluded the docket for the criminal case hearings held this week. Judge Courrier will return on December 9 and December 11 to conclude his 2019 hearings within Tucker County Circuit Court.