By Bobby Bordelon
One recent escapee sought by the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s office has been brought back into custody and had bond revoked by Greenbrier County Circuit Court Judge Robert Richardson. Kip Aaron Sears, a suspect in a January shooting, now remains incarcerated at the Southern Regional Jail in Beckley.
Sears’ charges emerge primarily from a shooting on Brush Road at the beginning of this year resulting in one victim being flown to Virginia in order to receive needed emergency medical care.
“At approximately 12:10 a.m. on January 07, 2020, members of the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office and the WV State Police responded to [reports] of a shooting at a residence on Brush Road near Maxwelton,” reads the press release issued by the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department after Sears’ arrest. “During the initial investigation officers would learn that the residents of the home were awakened by someone yelling outside and a vehicle was observed in their driveway. The subjects outside were yelling and inquiring as to the whereabouts of two individuals, neither of whom were known by the occupants of the home. They were then told to leave the premises. One of the subjects then fired multiple gunshots at the residence from a small caliber firearm. One of those discharged rounds ultimately struck a teenage resident inside the house.”
Sears was arrested in January for another charge, but was quickly deemed a suspect in the shooting due to weapons found during the arrest. Bond was originally set for $70,000, but was reduced to $40,000. On October 1, Sears was found in violation of his bond for using fentanyl. He was required to complete a 28-day substance abuse treatment program.
On November 2, the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page announced it was searching for Sears and Brandon Gregory Keeney after a warrant was issued for the crime of fleeing. Leona Roberts, director of the Greenbrier County Home Confinement, explained during her testimony that Sears did not contact the Home Incarceration program or the proper channels in order to enroll in a program.
“On October 19, at 9:33, we got an alert that his bracelet had been tampered with,” explained Roberts. “Officer Spencer tried to call him and got no answer, so he went to the residence. When he got there he could not find the defendant and the GPS was laying on a chair.”
Both individuals sought by the sheriff’s office were caught, with Keeney first on November 8 and Sears on November 17.
According to Roberts’ testimony, Sears did not contact the home incarceration program before leaving the home he was staying in. Instead, the program was contacted by a drug rehabilitation clinic on his behalf. The strap to his GPS monitor was found and appeared to be tampered with. In addition, notes given to friends and family by Sears indicated he was leaving the area.
“Just want to say thanks again for letting me stay,” reads one such note. “Sorry again about everything that happened, I love you.”
After the hearing was continued last week, Richardson formally revoked bond on November 30.
“That evidence was quite clear that the defendant had violated the terms and conditions of his bond,” Richardson said. “The court will, accordingly, revoke that bond, the defendant shall remain at the Southern Regional Jail to await further proceedings.”
Defense attorney Dewitt Daniel, on behalf of Sears, asked if the court would consider a motion for bond in order to get Sears into a rehabilitation program.
“Upon the filing of any motion the court will consider it,” Richardson said. “That does not mean that the court would be favorably disposed or unfavorably disposed to reinstate the defendant upon bond with additional conditions. As counsel is well aware, the failure of the defendant to abide by the conditions, particularly concerning supervision, does not bode well, but you’re welcome to put it in front of me.”
Sears remains incarcerated in the Southern Regional Jail pending further hearings in his case.