By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Jay Dee Kennard, charged with fraudulent claims of a side by side to an insurance company, appeared with Defense Attorney Pat Nichols to enter a plea agreement. Frank Bush, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, worked with Nichols to come to an agreement for Kennard to plead guilty and request a deferred adjudication. On Saturday, October 6, 2018 Kennard wrecked his UTV, that he did not have insurance coverage on. After the incident, Kennard called Geico Insurance Company to take out an insurance policy on the UTV and followed with filing a claim on the accident that happened prior to coverage.
The Honorable Judge James Courrier went through the proceedings with the defendant to ensure full understanding of his decision and deemed him competent and accepted his plea. Kennard will be placed on probation until released by the Probation Officer when he will return to court and the felony plea can be withdrawn and Kennard can offer a misdemeanor plea of guilty. A supervision fee will be required at $5 per month.
Jason Adkins was scheduled to appear before the court; however, he did not appear. Defense Attorney Hillary Bright spoke with her client the day prior, saying, “He indicated he had not yet found a ride.” Bright told Adkins a failure to appear could result in his bond being revoked by the court. According to his counsel, Adkins is in a Halfway House in Huntington, W.Va.
Bush motioned to issue a capias for Adkins’ arrest, but Judge Courrier stated he did not want to interfere with his recovery if it is going well, though also does not want to delay the progress of the court. Judge Courrier decided to schedule another hearing for December 11 at 3:45 p.m. in hopes it will offer ample time for Adkins to secure transportation. If Adkins fails to appear yet again, a capias will be issued and he will be arrested and held until the next available date after the holidays.
Deanna Waybright was also represented by Bright, appearing on a former charge and new count of uttering. The new charge relates to issuing a check in the amount of $80 from Kisner’s Pit Stop, which carries a potential penalty of a one to 10-year sentence. Bush called Community Corrections Director Dustin Luzier to the stand to testify on behalf of Waybright’s terms of bond requirements.
Luzier stated that Waybright had several violations of terms of her bond, including repeated failure of urinalysis for marijuana and methamphetamine, failure to perform her daily check-ins, equaling over 20 violations. The last time Waybright checked in with the Community Corrections was October 23 with Luzier stating they have exasperated all of the in-house services that were available and arrangements were made for Waybright to go into a rehabilitation center, but she failed to arrive.
Bright had the opportunity to question Luzier about the Community Corrections program and ensured her client was made fully aware of those requirements and that signed documents were received. She also asked Luzier if he called Waybright’s employer to verify her employment and check her schedule to accommodate her shifts. Luzier stated he did verify her employment which the program assisted with her obtaining, however, the schedule was not requested due to the operating hours of Community Corrections. Luzier added that he and his team had been working hard for Waybright to go to rehab because they wanted to see her succeed and felt that was the only option left for assistance.
Bush made a motion to revoke Waybright’s bond due to numerous violations including eight failed drug screens. Bright objected stating that her client did appear several times, saying, “Everybody has issues that they’re dealing with which is why they’re here.” Bright suggested her client needed treatment instead of jail, especially with COVID-19 and preparing for an upcoming trial. “Maybe this is a wake-up call for her that she needs to go to rehab,” Bright added.
“It’s obvious that she’s not complying with the bond,” began Judge Courrier as he considered how to proceed with the motion. The ruling was that the bond will be revoked with an opportunity for reconsideration if Waybright secures a rehab program and Bright provides proof of such. At that time, Waybright can be released from jail and report to the rehab facility.
A brief recess was taken and upon return, Judge Courrier was informed that through combined efforts of Bright and the Community Corrections, a rehab facility was found to take Waybright the next morning after medical clearance. Luzier recommended Waybright’s mother gather her belongings before escorting her to the hospital for a medical evaluation where she will then be taken to the facility for a 28-day program. Waybright requested an officer to accompany her to her home to gather her own belongings and say goodbye to her daughter but was denied. Judge Courrier suggested Waybright remain at the Community Corrections until the mother returns to go directly to the hospital.
Judge Courrier rescinded his previous order to revoke Waybright’s bond but to make the addition to include the requirement for Waybright to go directly from court to the hospital for medical clearance and then to the rehab facility where she is to stay until successful completion. He also required a $10,000 personal recognizance bond for her new uttering charge. A pre-trial date was set for 11:45 a.m. on January 8 with a trial set for January 25.
Darrell Spitznogle appeared before the court via teleconference from the Tygart Valley Regional Jail with his defense Morris Davis present in person. The defense filed a motion to dismiss the case, stating, “The indictment does not provide the defendant with enough information to allow him to adequately defend himself.” A bill of particulars was requested at an earlier hearing date but was denied by the Judge. “I don’t feel that the indictment as it is filed now puts the defendant on fair notice of his charges,” Davis continued as he quoted a previous case and statute.
Bush responded that Davis’ reliance on a state law is misleading and suggested the indictment was sufficient. He provided another similar case reference where the specific dates of the occurrences were not needed.
Judge Courrier responded; he believes the law is on the side of the state in this matter and that the prosecution has done the best possible in providing the most specific dates. He further said that it isn’t uncommon for trauma victims to only be able to remember general dates, especially when it involves children. The motion was denied followed by Davis suggesting moving forward to set a trial date. The pretrial has been set for February 11 at 11 a.m. with the trial scheduled for February 22.
Davis and co-counsel James Hawkins also serve as legal representation to Dillon Waybright, appearing from TVRJ on over 100 counts of child abuse. The hearing was set as a suppression hearing for an opportunity to question the responding officer, however the officer was unable to attend. A bail modification motion was submitted with Davis stating the original amount was set December 19, 2019 at $120,000 cash only, and prior to the convictions, his client has not had any substantial charges. He continued that his client is presuming his innocence in the matter, has close ties to the community and would reside in Montrose, and is understanding that there would be no contact with the alleged victim. Davis further stated that Waybright is young and has not had a chance to grow substantial savings that would allow him to make bail and leaving the amount at the $120,000 could be seen as denial of bail which is “unconstitutional.”
Bush stressed that Waybright has over 100 counts on the indictment and that the severity of the charges are substantial, leading him to believe the set amount is sufficient. Judge Courrier deferred his decision and requested a specific plan to be submitted to him for review. “I will take a look at that proposal,” he said, but also commented he would not make the bond PR over cash, though the amount may be taken into consideration.
Hawkins provided the court with two additional motions, a request for a venue change and another for a bill of particulars. He suggested that his client will not receive a fair trial if a jury is selected from within Tucker County, however upon earlier conversation with Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora, he made it clear that he disagrees and the trial should remain in the county. Bush acknowledged that the case has received press coverage and is widely known about within the parameters of Tucker County, though he reiterated LaMora’s stance.
Judge Courrier responded, “It wouldn’t surprise me if a fair amount of people know something about this,” however without a survey of the residents being conducted, it is unknown just how extensive an individual’s knowledge may be. He ruled that a large pool of jurors would be brought in to select the panel for the trial, and if that was deemed insufficient, he would revisit the venue change request.
As for the bill of particulars, Hawkins argued that of over 100 counts on the indictment, there is no specificity as to what the state is relying on and requests the state be required to answer three questions to the defense; what were the specific acts committed to constitute a crime, what abuse was inflicted upon the victim, and what bodily injury the victim suffered.
Bush argued that the 122 counts are specific as he proceeded to read one as an example that said the victim was made sleep naked in a dog crate. Bush conceded that the specific injury isn’t noted, though didn’t feel it was sufficient enough of an argument and it was unrealistic to request specific injuries to 122 counts.
Hawkins responded that he doesn’t feel that the victim being in a dog crate qualifies as abuse because it doesn’t list what bodily injury was incurred, therefore he and Davis couldn’t properly defend their client.
Judge Courrier agreed that the case is complex with many counts involved, though he tends to agree with Hawkins for the purposes of a trial that more information is needed to meet the definition of abuse and the specific bodily injury needs to be known. Hawkins continued by saying he didn’t think that making the individual sleep in the crate is an act of abuse and wanted to know what bodily injury it actually caused. Bush responded, “I think we all can agree making a seven year old sleep naked in a dog crate is abuse.” Hawkins responded that just because they slept in a crate that doesn’t mean they were injured, “though disgusting if it’s true.” Courrier informed the prosecution that something needed to be provided to the defense to show what physical injury is being alleged that constitutes abuse in addition to what bodily injury resulted.
The defendant requested moving forward with the proceedings as quickly as possible. A two day trial has been set for January 28 and 29, 2021.
Kandice Sponaugle appeared with Davis with a signed plea agreement as part of a pre-trial diversion agreement that was developed cohortedly by both parties. Judge Courrier confirmed Sponaugle felt comfortable going forth with the plea agreement that day as Sheriff B.K. Wilfong handed the Judge the terms of the plea. Judge Courrier stated that Sponaugle must abide by the plea terms and if done so successfully, after two years the parties can return and the pending charges will be downgraded to a series of misdemeanors.
After verifying all parties were in full understanding and agreement, Judge Courrier stated, “I think that sounds like a reasonable way to resolve things at this point.” And further hearings have been recessed regarding this matter until a later date.
Justin Campbell was also on the docket to appear but failed to do so. Judge Courrier issued a capias to arrest Campbell upon his location.