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South Point man sentenced to four years in prison

The trial of an accused drug peddler scheduled for next week was preempted Wednesday when the defendant pleaded guilty to the six-count indictment against him.

Joseph V. Stewart, of 119 Ashland Drive, South Point, pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in powder cocaine and five counts of trafficking in crack cocaine. Authorities contend some of the drug deals were committed in the presence of juveniles.

“Mr. Stewart has a criminal history and I feel like we had a solid case prepared,” Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr., told Judge Charles Cooper, who sentenced Stewart to four years in prison and fined him $18,750.

Stewart’s attorney, Mike Davenport, said he anticipated asking for judicial release at some time prior to the conclusion of the four years.

Stewart and an alleged cohort, Jamie Mayhone, were arrested in June after authorities began investigating complaints about drug activity at their South Point residence. Authorities said the couple had actually gotten a room at an area motel to avoid being caught by police.

Four children under the age of 10 were in the motel room when the couple was arrested. Charges are pending against Mayhone.

In another matter, one of three people accused of connection with the assault on a Huntington, W.Va., taxi driver late last year admitted to the charges against him Wednesday and also avoided a trial.

Christopher Colburn, 25, of 7965 County Road 107, Proctorville, pleaded guilty to charges of complicity to aggravated robbery and complicity to tampering with evidence. Cooper sentenced him to four years in prison.

“I’m sorry for everything, sorry for my family, for putting them through this,” Colburn said, turning briefly to face family members, some of whom sat crying in the gallery as he was sentenced. To Cooper, he added, “I’m sorry for wasting your time.”

Colburn was accused of “aiding or abetting” William Hale, the man who admitted to attacking Walter “Corky” Asbury, in December 2008. Asbury was stabbed in the neck and robbed in his taxicab at an Exxon gasoline station on County Road 107 in Proctorville.

Hale was arrested days later after local authorities got a call from someone who had seen footage of the taxi’s video surveillance tape and identified Hale as the perpetrator. Hale, 24, of Huntington, W.Va., pleaded guilty to the charges against him in May and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Charges are pending against a third person arrested in connection with the incident, Brandy Davis, 20, of 7965 County Road 107, Proctorville. She and Colburn were to have stood trial together Aug. 17 and 18.

Davis is also charged with complicity to aggravated robbery and complicity to tampering with evidence.

In another case, Brittany Wilson, 24, of 2395 County Road 66, Proctorville, bypassed a trial as well by pleading guilty on a bill of information to one count of grand theft. She will be sentenced Aug. 19. She admitted to Cooper that she stole a 9mm. handgun. By pleading guilty to a bill of information, Wilson avoids having the case heard by a grand jury and a trial in common pleas court.