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County court busy with variety of crimes

A woman indicted on drug charges bypassed most of the criminal justice process Wednesday by pleading guilty at her arraignment.

Melissa D. Clutters, 27, of 818 1/2 S. Fourth St., Ironton, pleaded guilty in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court to aggravated possession of drugs (Ritalin) and possession of drug abuse instruments.

Judge D. Scott Bowling sentenced her to four years community control sanctions under intensive supervised probation (CCS/ISP), ordered her to successfully complete a rehabilitation program at the STAR Community Justice Center and fined her $1,250. She must also forfeit her driver’s license for six months.

“Ms. Clutters does admit she has a substance abuse problem,” her attorney, Mike Gleichauf said.

Normally, people accused of crimes are officially presented court documents explaining those crimes at a hearing called an arraignment.

Guilty pleas, if they are entered at all, come after a series of discussions about the case between the prosecutor’s office and defense counsel at pretrial conferences. Clutters’ guilty plea took her from indictment to punishment.

In another case, Gary F. Akers, 32, of Worthington, Ky., was arraigned on one count of felonious assault. He pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Derick Fisher.

Judge Charles Cooper allowed bond set in municipal court to continue and told Akers to return to court next week for a pretrial conference.

Also Wednesday, Jerry Raines, 38, whose address is listed as “unknown” on court documents, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of failure to provide a change of address to the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.

As a sex offender, Raines is required to register with the sheriff’s office and to notify authorities if he moves. Bowling sentenced him to six months in prison.

A couple arrested last month in connection with a pot-growing operation were arraigned Wednesday. Shannon Preston, 31, of 595 County Road 15, South Point, was arraigned on a four-count drug indictment.

She pleaded not guilty through her attorney, Jeff Berndt. Bowling allowed bond posted in municipal court to continue and added a $50,000 own recognizance bond to it. The judge scheduled a March 31 pretrial conference.

Steven C. Preston, 58, also of 595 County Road 15, South Point, was also arraigned on a four-count drug indictment.

He pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Luke Styer. Bowling set the same bond specifics and ordered him to appear for a March 31 pretrial conference as well.

Paul E. Barnes, 53, of 2810 S. Fifth St., Ironton, was arraigned on charges of gross sexual imposition, importuning, resisting arrest and two counts of felonious assault.

Styer, who is also his attorney, entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. Bowling ordered a mental health evaluation and delayed setting a pretrial conference until it was complete.

Alexander W. Huddle, 30, of 4644 County Road 29, Pedro, was arraigned on charges of aggravated burglary with a firearm specification, disrupting public service and two counts of aggravated menacing. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity through his attorney, Warren Morford. Cooper scheduled a mental health evaluation.

Steve Wilcox, 58, of 107 Oakwood Drive, Coal Grove, was arraigned on one count of aggravated theft. He pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Mike Davenport. Cooper allowed bond set in a lower court to continue and scheduled a March 17 pretrial conference.

Jeffrey A. Penwell, 51, of 289 Township Road 155E, Pedro, was arraigned on charges of assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Mike Gleichauf.

Bowling allowed bond set in municipal court to continue and scheduled a pretrial conference for next week.

Aimee Busick, 22, of 52 Township Road 1202, Chesapeake, was arraigned on one count of theft. She pleaded not guilty through Gleichauf, who is also her attorney. Bowling set a $10,000 OR bond and ordered her to return to court next week for a pretrial conference.

Joshua McKenzie, 25, of Oak Hill, was arraigned on one count of theft. He pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Derick Fisher. Bowling set a $20,000 OR bond and ordered McKenzie to return to court March 24 for a pretrial conference.

Alexa N. Keaton, 18, 121 Township Road 1105, Proctorville, was arraigned on charges of burglary and theft. She pleaded not guilty.

Cooper set a $25,000 OR bond and scheduled a March 24 pretrial conference.

Angela M. Stafford, 32, of 52 Township Road 1404, South Point, was arraigned on charges of theft, misdemeanor criminal trespass and two misdemeanor counts of theft. She pleaded not guilty through her attorney, Samantha Fields. Cooper set a $25,000 OR bond and ordered her to return to court March 24 for a pretrial conference.