Defendant has charges dropped

Published 10:51 am Thursday, June 8, 2017

Second under Ballard to complete program

Judge Andrew Ballard dismissed all charges against Robert Kennard, 40, of Russell, Kentucky, on Wednesday morning following Kennard’s successful completion of a treatment-in-lieu program.

Kennard successfully completed his program at STAR Community Justice Center, paid all necessary costs and restitution, and has provided proof of successfully holding a job, working now with a drug rehab and counseling center in Morehead, Kentucky.

Ballard told Kennard it was his “honor to congratulate” him on his successful completion of the program, becoming the second person to successfully do so since Ballard took over as common pleas judge in January. Ballard’s handshake with Kennard turned into a hug as Ballard lauded Kennard for his hard work and perseverance.

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“It’s easy to go to prison,” Ballard said, explaining that it is often easier to accept the sentence than to commit to the hard work of recovery.  “It’s a much bigger choice,” he continued, “to turn around and do what you’ve done.”

The treatment-in-lieu-of-conviction diversion program is run through the office of Prosecutor Brigham Anderson and offers low level offenders charged with crimes that may be related to drug use, but are not directly drug charges, the opportunity to seek treatment rather than prosecution. The program is “not easy” as Ballard explained, and requires strict adherence to the terms of the sentence.

In other action in Ballard’s courtroom on Wednesday morning, Homer W. Anson, 29, of South Point, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of domestic violence.

Kailah Douglas, 34, of South Point, pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of criminal tools. She was released on a $15,000 own recognizances bond, and had her pretrial scheduled for June 21.

Dean Fields, 54, of Ironton, pleaded guilty to charges of failing to comply with an order from a police officer, tampering with evidence, and improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle. Fields will return June 19 for sentencing.

Darrell Gore, 54, of South Point, denied his CCS violation, and had his trial set for June 14.

Timothy Kinser, age unknown, of Huntington, West Virginia, pleaded guilty to one count of receiving stolen property and one count of making false statements. Kinser was sentenced to 12 months on each count, to run concurrently, as part of his plea deal. Kinser, who is also facing time in a West Virginia jail, will be remanded to the custody of the West Virginia penal system, and is allowed to have his sentence run concurrently with any time served in West Virginia. However, Ballard explained, if Kinser gets out of jail there before he has served his 12 months, he will be remanded to the custody of Lawrence County for the remainder of his sentence.

Jeremy Lewis, 38, of Catlettsburg, Kentucky, had a new bond set at $15,000 cash or surety after failing a urinalysis screening. Lewis had previously been released on his own recognizances, but violated the terms of that deal by testing positive for methamphetamine and cocaine. Lewis was appearing before the judge on charges of possession of methamphetamine and failure to appear, and had his pretrial rescheduled again for June 21.

Stephanie Romans, age and address unknown, had her bond of $15,000 cash or surety continued from the lower court and had her case held over to the grand jury.

Michael Rucker, 57, of Ironton, had his pretrial set for June 21 on charges of violating his community control sanctions.

Jeffrey Saul, age and address unknown, was released on a $7,500 own recognizances bond and GPS monitoring.

Jason D. Smith, 38, of Huntington, had his pretrial set for June 28 on charges of possession of heroin and driving under the influence. His attorney, Luke Styer, told the court that Smith has an evaluation with Riverside treatment center set for June 21, and that they can have a bed available for him in July. Ballard allowed the continuance, noting that if treatment were a part of his sentence the date of June 28 allowed Smith to have his assessment prior to court and to have a bed available in the following week if treatment was an option the prosecution was willing to consider.

Styer has served as attorney for both of the individuals to successfully complete the treatment-in-lieu program in Ballard’s court.

Christopher Strait. 45, of Ironton, appeared before Ballard on charges of F5 possession of drugs and a charge of failure to appear. Strait tested positive for opiates and marijuana that morning before court. Styer told the court that his client had consumed the marijuana prior to being granted bond, and that he had a prescription for the opiates in his system. He further explained that Strait had been in the hospital during his previous failure to appear.

Ballard continued the case for one week, and ordered Strait to provide evidence of his hospitalization, as well as his prescription and the pill bottle for that prescription, at that time.

Jimmie O’Field, 58, of South Point, denied his CCS violation. His trial was set for June 21, and Ballard denied his request for bond. He said that he would reconsider bond at a future date, but only if O’Field were confined to the house with GPS monitoring, to guarantee that he didn’t have access to a vehicle, in the interest of public safety.

Christopher Kelley, 32, of Ironton, was sentenced to four years of CCS with ISP, 200 hours of community service, and to complete a program at STAR, with 11 months reserved.

John Pennington, 53, of Coal Grove, had his bond set at $125,000 cash or surety after a previous failure to appear on charges of domestic violence and disrupting public service.

Pennington had appeared at the previous date, but left the building without providing a urine sample after being ordered to do so. Pennington attempted to argue with the court that he shouldn’t have to provide a urine sample, after being ordered again to do so, because his offense was not drug related. However, Ballard explained that a condition of his previous bond release required him to submit to random urine screenings and avoid use of any illegal drugs.

Pennington and his lawyer claimed that he misunderstood the details of his previous failure to appear charge, and the failure to provide a urine sample at that time, and believed he was free to leave. Pennington, however, had also failed to provide a urine sample on Wednesday, and told jail personnel that he wasn’t willing to do so. Ballard then had Pennington brought before the court again and explained that for each day he failed to provide a urine sample, Ballard would hold him in contempt of court and add an extra 30 days to his sentence.

“We held up our end by letting you go on an OR bond,” Ballard said, “now we need you to live up to (the agreement.)”

Elizabeth Martin, 42, of Huntington, West Virginia, pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of drugs. Her bond was set at $20,000 own recognizances, and pretrial scheduled for two weeks from Wednesday.

In Judge Charles Cooper’s court, Brian K. Layne, age and address unavailable, accepted his final offer and was released on $25,000 own recognizances bond and GPS monitoring. Layne will return to court for sentencing in two weeks.

Kimberly A. Montgomery, 50, of Ironton, was sentenced to three years each on four different charges, with each sentence to run concurrently, for a total of three years. Montgomery pleaded guilty on April 19 to three counts of trafficking in drugs and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

“She got addicted to oxy,” explained her defense attorney, Warren Morford, “and got mixed up with some of the higher players in the Detroit Connection.”

“She didn’t do this for the money,” he continued, explaining that she didn’t “live in a mansion” and was simply in over her head with the dealers and afraid.  “She did this,” he said, “to support a substantial oxycodone habit.”

William F. Salyers, 36, of Ironton, pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking in methamphetamine, and was released on his own recognizances with a GPS monitor. Salyers will return on June 21 for sentencing.

Christopher Young, 25, of Ironton, appeared for pretrial on charges that he failed to notify law enforcement of a change in address. Defense attorney Warren Morford attempted to get Young’s bond reduced to $1,000, a sum that Morford explained his client could afford.

However Cooper said that given the nature of Young’s previous sexual offenses, which required him to inform law enforcement of any change in address, he was maintaining bond at $10,000 cash or surety.