• 66°

Franklin Furnace man pleads in theft case

A Franklin Furnace man avoided a trial that was to have started this week and instead pleaded guilty Wednesday to the theft charge against him.

Robert Prince was sentenced to 11 months in prison. If he stays out of trouble while he in behind bars, he may be eligible for judicial release after serving three months. After his release, Prince will serve four years community control sanctions under intensive supervised probation (CCS/ISP).

Before Prince agreed to plead guilty, his attorney, Philip Heald asked Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge D. Scott Bowling for a trial extension, saying Prince had medical problems for which he needed treatment and because he had only recent gotten some information that will be used at trial.

Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Jeff Smith said he is ready to proceed with the trial and noted that the trial had been scheduled for “quite a while.” Smith also said Prince is no stranger to the criminal justice system.

“He was out of prison five months when he committed this crime,” Smith said. But Heald contended that Prince’s problems require him to be hospitalized and this could affect his ability to participate in his own defense.

“He thinks right now his ability to have a fair trial is diminished,” Heald said. “I want him to be aware of the facts before they go to the jury.”

Bowling ruled against the delay.

“I understand you only recently received certain items of discovery but this is not a complicated case,” Bowling told Heald.

Also Wednesday, Brittany Wells, of Flatwoods, Ky., was arraigned on charges of receiving stolen property, failure to comply with the order and signal of a police officer and possession of drugs. She pleaded not guilty through her attorney, Mike Davenport. Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Mack Anderson asked Bowling to set a $25,000 cash or surety bond plus a $25,000 own recognizance bond in this matter. He said she was supposed to have appeared in court in March and never did and a capias, or bench warrant was issued for her.

“These are fairly serious charges,” Anderson said. “She is an out-of-state resident.”

But Davenport told Bowling that Wells couldn’t come to court in Lawrence County in March because she was in jail in Greenup County, Ky., on other charges.

Bowling set a $20,000 OR bond with electronic home confinement and scheduled a pretrial conference for July 15.

Also Wednesday, Albert Hampton, of 707 Ashtabula St., Ironton, was arraigned on one count of burglary. He pleaded not guilty through attorney Derick Fisher, who was substituting for fellow attorney Mike Gleichauf. Judge Charles Cooper allowed bond set in a lower court to continue and told Hampton to return to court July 15 for a pretrial conference.