By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
The honorable Judge James Courrier recently held a few criminal hearings amongst his abuse and neglect cases. His first assignment was the arraignment of Dustin Moran, who is charged with two counts of possession with intent to deliver. Courrier informed Moran that each charge carried not less than one and not more than fifteen years in prison, and/or up to a $25,000 fine. It was decided to modify his bond from the previous $400,000 cash only to $100,000 cash or property over the objection of Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora.
Entering next was Emily Heckler on one count of murder. Courrier advised Heckler this could be up to a life sentence and her bond is to remain at $500,000, much to the dismay of her defense attorney. It was requested by her legal council to be granted a new mental evaluation, though her last one deemed her mentally competent. His argument was the doctor was not the one administering the testing, rather his staff in which defense requested it be conducted solely by the doctor this time. Courrier granted his request.
Hannah Adkins appeared as a request from LaMora and was made to revoke her bond due to failure of a recent drug test. There was a technological error resulting in the delay of the paperwork, therefore Courrier agreed to allow Adkins to remain out on bond, however with the strict stipulation that if another drug test is failed an order will be signed for her immediate arrest.
Tuesday, the honorable Judge Lynn Nelson presided over the Tucker County Circuit Court. Lester Mook appeared first with Defense Attorney Pat Nichols with a movement from LaMora to set a trial date. A two day trial will take place May 9 and 10 beginning at 9 a.m.
Britni Ball was absent, however her attorney was present. After a brief discussion between council, it was announced by the defense that there was an unsuccessful resolution and to move to setting a new trial date. The defense attorney made a motion to sever the two counts of third offense shoplifting into two separate trials, which was granted, the first being the incident occurring at Shop N Save to be held March 13 at 9 a.m.
Michael White was not transported by the Department of Corrections, however his attorney was proposing a plea agreement, therefore he is required to attend. White is charged with two misdemeanors of worthless check writing at Kidwell’s, and one felony of issuing a worthless check at Adkins Home Center.
Jeremy Watson, arraigned on possessing a firearm when prohibited, appeared with his new council, Defense Attorney Hess. Hess proclaimed to the judge he is experiencing the same issues as former representative Easton, where Watson fails to cooperate with his representative. It was requested by Hess that Watson complete a criminal response to incapacitated to stand trial.
Arraigned on murder, Jason White was also not transported, however his attorney continued on his behalf. He made a request for the judge to allow the defense to hire a ballistics expert out of Indiana for the upfront cost of $2,500 and also a later fee of around the same. LaMora complied with this request with the stipulation that he have enough time to review their findings and the chance to hire his own expert if need arises. The request was granted to the defense and trial is still scheduled for April 29 through May 3, 2019.
Escorted in with restraints was Charles Wolfe, appearing for the 404B evidence hearing. LaMora had discovered similarities across other occurrences in Wolfe’s past that he felt were valuable in showing the habits of Wolfe in the treatment of his girlfriends. Circuit Clerk Sharon Moats swore in all three of the individuals as they took the stand to answer a few questions about their dealings with Wolfe. The first to take the stand claims to have been in a three year relationship with the defendant off and on. She claims there were several instances Wolfe would be violent towards her and that it was “normal for him”. “It was scary”, she proclaimed as she relived the incidents. She claims she only told her family members about his alleged abuse and claims she would run away and he would find her and take her back. Defense attorney asked why she waited until August of 2016 to file a report, to which she replied, “I was afraid for my life if I did”. He asked how bad she was injured when Wolfe supposedly laid hands on her, and she informed she had several bruises including around her neck. “So he didn’t hurt you that bad,” the defense suggested. “Bruises are pretty bad to me,” she quickly confirmed. Defense continued questioning the young woman about potential past drug abuse to which she confirmed using soboxon both with and without a prescription.
The second young lady was sworn in before being questioned by both councils. She had stated she had an eight to nine month relationship with the defendant that started out good before turning violent. She claims he became abusive one night and she left, however he came and got her and ended up strangling her until she became unconscious. He allegedly wouldn’t let her work, and if she owned a cell phone he would break it. “You can’t tell him no,” she told the courtroom. She informed he had made threats stating, “He was going to kill my family and rape my little sister”.
The third and final young woman took the stand and informed she and the defendant were in an off and on relationship from 2001 until 2014, and he is the father of her children. She claims she left several times in that timeframe as the abuse got worse, but would end up going back. That is, up until 2014 when Wolfe allegedly struck the victim from behind shattering her jaw, requiring a trip to the hospital. She had to be referred to Morgantown for a specialist having to wait a week for surgery to allow the significant swelling to cease. After healing from her jaw surgery, she did take Wolfe to court over that particular altercation. As she concluded her comments, the defense stated he feels this is character evidence and requested denied entry to the trial due to the drugs, issues with precise date recollection, and it would mislead the jury. Judge Nelson is granting the submission of their testimonies; however, they need to be regarding specific incidences on specific dates.
Following the ruling on the 404B evidence, Lynyrd Nestor came forth with LaMora updating the judge they are nearing a pre-trial resolution and requested more time to work out the details. He is set to return on March 13, along with Jason White and Michael White, prior to Ball’s trial.