Six sentenced, trials set
Circuit Court Judge Andrew Frye recently set trial dates, heard pleas, handed down sentences and issued probation status in a number of felony cases in Morgan County Circuit Court.
Zell trials scheduled
Two separate jury trials have been set for James T. Zell, Jr., 24, of Tri-Lake Park, Berkeley Springs. Zell was indicted in January for breaking and entering for an incident involving the theft of tools from a shed in September 2011. As of press time, that case was scheduled to be presented to a Morgan County jury on June 5.
Zell was also indicted by the April Grand Jury for two counts of murder for the death of his girlfriend and her unborn child in December 2011.
He is accused of having strangled Kelly Butler and transported her body to a remote cabin in Hampshire County. Police there discovered Butler’s body shortly before Christmas, acting on a tip from police in Shenandoah County, Va. and information obtained during interviews of Zell about Butler’s disappearance.
The murder trial is scheduled to begin June 26.
Nathan D. Spielman, 32, of the Eastern Regional Jail pled guilty to grand larceny for an incident in July 2011 when he entered a woman’s home posing as a meat salesman and stole jewelry items. He was sentenced to one to 10 years in jail and must pay $300 in restitution.
Michael P. Stender, 38, of Berkeley Springs pled guilty to manufacturing a controlled substance (marijuana) and to a sex offender registry violation in October 2011. He was sentenced to one to five years in prison for the drug offense and one year in jail for the sex offender registry violation. The sentences will be served consecutively. Stender will return to court on May 21 to determine if he is a candidate for home confinement.
Adam M. Bright, 29, of Slanesville pled guilty to driving under the influence, third offense – a felony. The charges stemmed from a traffic incident in November 2011. Bright will be sentenced on June 4.
Willard W. Smith, 64, of Hedgesville pled no contest to attempting to disarm a police officer and to driving under the influence, all in April 2011. Smith’s sentence of one to five years in prison for the police offense and six months in jail for the DUI were suspended for five years’ probation.
George W. Mason, 62, of Hedgesville pled no contest to battery of a police officer and to obstructing a police officer, both in March 2010. He was sentenced to one to five years in prison for the battery offense and one year in jail for obstructing the officer.
Richard J. O’Toole, 34, of Berkeley Springs pled no contest to misdemeanor embezzlement of cigarette sale proceeds from 7-11 in 2009. O’Toole has already completed two years’ probation for the offense as part of a pretrial diversion. His current sentence of one year in jail was suspended for one year probation.
Probation for Michael J. Burton, Sr., 36, of Hedgesville was revoked. Burton must now serve his original sentence of one to five years for child concealment and five months in jail, plus a $100 fine, for driving while his license was revoked for DUI. Both of the incidents took place in 2010. Burton’s jail sentences will be served at the same time.