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Accomplice in ‘brutal’ assault pleads guilty

Drug cases, CCS violations fill docket

Frank D. Smith, 63, of Huntington, West Virginia, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges of tampering with evidence and obstruction of official business, felonies of the third degree, for his involvement in the Marvin Sexton case. Smith, who appeared before Judge Charles Cooper, pleaded guilty to the counts in a plea deal that nullified charges of complicity to felonious assault and complicity to attempted murder.

Smith admitted to driving Sexton from Ohio to West Virginia on the night of the assault, where Sexton then disposed of evidence, including burning his bloody clothing. He will return for sentencing in two weeks.

Sexton was sentenced on March 29 to a total of 20 years for charges related to the assault and attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend, Melissa Howard. Howard’s attack occurred in November of 2016, when Sexton broke into her home and beat her with a shovel, leaving her for dead. At the time of Sexton’s sentencing, Prosecutor Brigham Anderson characterized the attack on Howard as “brutal” and “one of the worst” he had seen.

In other action Wednesday, Judge Cooper approved a request from Sowards Bail Bonds to be removed from the bond for Michael W. Neff II, 33, of Proctorville. Neff had a warrant issued for his arrest after failing to appear for a court ordered urinalysis.

Sowards said they attempted to contact Neff, and determined he had violated his agreement by moving without providing notice.

When he was contacted, he attempted to run. Sowards said that, because of this, he saw Neff as a flight risk and would like to be removed from the bond.

The judge agreed to relieve Sowards of his bond obligation, and maintained bond at $20,000 cash or surety and $25,000 own recognizances.

Michael Newcomb, 23, of Ironton, admitted to CCS violations and obstruction of official business. His bond was continued and he was ordered to return in two weeks for sentencing.

Clayton Pate, 34, of Ironton, pleaded guilty to F4 burglary, as part of a plea deal that nullified other charges against him, and was sentenced to four years community control sanction with intensive supervised probation, to complete a program at STAR Community Justice Center, and to complete aftercare at Mended Reeds for additional addiction and mental health services.

Nichole. R. Scott, 45, of South Shore, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to three charges of aggravated vehicular assault, driving under the influence, and texting while driving. She will return for sentencing on Sept. 6.

Thomas D. Smith, 48, of Ironton, pleaded guilty to failure to notify authorities of a change of address as required by law, and was sentenced to nine months in the appropriate penal institution.

Smith told the court that he knew he had done the wrong thing leaving the state without notice, but that he “did it for the right reason,” explaining that he was able to overcome a 25-year opiate addiction by leaving bad influences behind and finding work in Florida.

Smith explained that he didn’t notify the sheriff of the Florida county, where he was working because he knew he had a probation violation in Ohio, and he was afraid he would be sent back to Lawrence County where he would fall back into old habits.

Smith answered that charge as well, admitting to the violation in Judge Andrew Ballard’s courtroom, and was sentenced to nine months in prison, to run concurrent with his time served for Judge Cooper.

Ballard congratulated him for getting and staying clean, and told Smith that he “hopes the path (to recovery) you’re on continues.”

In other action in Ballard’s courtroom on Wednesday, Joe D. Boles, 33, of Ironton, pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and was sentenced to four years CCS, 200 hours of community service, and ordered to complete a program at STAR.

Melissa D. Bridges, 32, of Ironton, pleaded guilty to possession of heroin and was sentenced to four years CCS, 200 hours of community service, and ordered to complete a program at STAR, and will remain incarcerated until a bed is available at STAR.

Van Lee Harrell, 29, of South Point, admitted to his CCS violation and had his CCS extended by one year and was ordered to complete a program at STAR.

Reginald Kinstler, 38, of Ironton, pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine in a deal that nullified charges of theft and resisting arrest, and will serve seven months in prison.

Robert Pauley, 33, of South Point, pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm in a prohibited location, aggravated menacing, and improper handling of a weapon while intoxicated.

Pauley was sentenced to four years CCS with ISP, 90 days of house arrest under GPS monitoring, and was ordered to forfeit his gun and to stay away from the Frog Town bar in Ironton.

John T. Pennington, 52, of Coal Grove, pleaded guilty to failure to appear charges in a plea deal that dismissed charges of domestic violence and obstruction of official business.

Pennington will receive 12 months in prison, with credit for time served.

Lula M. Vance, 32, of Detroit, Michigan, pleaded guilty to possession of heroin and failure to appear. Vance was sentenced to 11 months on the possession charge and seven months on failure to appear, to run consecutively, for a total of 18 months.

Tyler Privette, 22, of Upton, Kentucky, and William Moudy, 30, of Lexington, Kentucky, each pleaded guilty in related cased to trafficking in marijuana. Privette and Moudy, who separately admitted to purchasing marijuana in Michigan with intentions of selling it in Lexington, were released on GPS monitoring, with sentencing set for Aug. 23 in both cases.

Jeffrey D. Hall, 45, of Kitts Hill, pleaded not guilty to possession of methamphetamine, and had his bond continued.

Emory B. Johnson, 53, of South Point, pleaded not guilty to possession of heroin and had bond set at $3,000 cash or surety and $25,000 own recognizances.

Deborah M. Newcomb, 48, of Ironton, pleaded not guilty to possession of methamphetamine, and had bond set at $3,000 cash or surety and $10,000 own recognizances.

Bernard Waller, 27, of Detroit, Michigan, pleaded not guilty to trafficking in oxycodone, and had bond set at $75,000 cash or surety and $150,000 own recognizances.

Joseph L. Whitmore, age unknown, of Proctorville, denied his CCS violation and had trial set for August 16.

Jason M. Hudson, 43, of Chesapeake, denied his CCS violation and had trial set for Aug. 16.