2017-05-03 / Front Page

Jury convicts Hobday on sexual abuse charges

At the close of a two-day trial, a Morgan County jury found a Berkeley Springs man guilty in Morgan County Circuit Court of sexually abusing a woman in June of last year.

Justin E. Hobday, 32, of Pious Ridge Road was convicted of two counts of first degree sexual abuse on Thursday, April 27. Hobday was denied post-conviction bond and was taken into custody at the Eastern Regional Jail immediately after the verdict.

The jury deliberated for just over two hours on Thursday before reaching their decision at 5 p.m.

Circuit Judge Laura Faircloth presided over the trial. The state’s case was argued by Prosecuting Attorney Debra McLaughlin. Defense attorney Sherman Lambert represented Hobday at the trial.

West Virginia State Police Trooper Samuel Smith was the arresting officer in the case, which began when police were contacted by medical personnel at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown and advised that a patient there had claimed she was raped in Berkeley Springs.

After interviewing the victim, Trooper Smith obtained a search warrant for Hobday’s residence on Pious Ridge Road and executed a search of the house in June of 2016, with the assistance of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and the Berkeley Springs Police Department.

Trooper Smith and other officers collected evidence related to the sexual abuse, including clothing and bedding. Lab results from a sexual assault examination at Meritus were also used as evidence in the case. Court records indicate that the victim had stayed overnight at Hobday’s home, but rebuffed his advances several times before he forced himself on her.

When police went to Hobday’s residence to investigate the crime, they also discovered a greenhouse where a total of 13 large marijuana plants were growing. At the time of Hobday’s arrest, Trooper Smith estimated the street value of the plants, which were taller than the officers, at $13,000. On April 20, just six days before his trial, Hobday pled guilty in Circuit Court to manufacturing a controlled substance.

Hobday is set to be sentenced for the drug charges on June 17 and will have a sentencing hearing on June 27 for the sexual abuse conviction.

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