Probation sentence handed down in Randolph DUI case

ELKINS – A Randolph County man who was convicted of DUI and driving on a revoked license was sentenced to probation Tuesday in Randolph County Circuit Court.

Jeremy Lynn Huffman, 34, of Elkins, was sentenced to one to three years in a state penitentiary for the DUI charge and six months in regional jail for the driving revoked charge, to run concurrently. This sentence was suspended for three years of supervised probation.

Huffman must additionally serve no less than six months on remote alcohol monitoring and pay a fine of $100.

Huffman pleaded guilty to one felony count of driving under the influence, third or subsequent offense, and one misdemeanor count of driving while license revoked for DUI as part of a plea agreement on Aug. 28, 2014.

On Oct. 20, 2014, eight days prior to his previously scheduled sentencing hearing, Huffman submitted a letter to the Circuit Judge’s office. Huffman’s then-attorney, Dennis Willett, subsequently filed a motion to withdraw his plea, which was denied by Senior Status Judge Thomas Steptoe on Sept. 11.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Huffman said he has been sober for 20 months while being supervised by the Randolph County Probation Office.

“I just hope the court permits me to keep on the track that I’m at,” Huffman said. “I’m doing well with this.”

Randolph County Probation Officer Jason Elmore and Huffman’s defense counsel, Lance Rollo, both echoed that sentiment, saying he has done “outstanding” while being supervised.

“It is true that Mr. Huffman’s had 20 months of sobriety,” Rollo said. “An improvement in his disposition is based on a number of factors, that sobriety being one of them. For these offenses, that’s huge. It shows a real clarity to the underlying problems that led to these offenses.”

Rollo said Huffman’s ability to remain sober has been “admirable.”

“Jeremy still goes to Community Corrections every day, checks in, signs the book and does what he’s supposed to do…,” Rollo said. “20 months of sobriety is admirable to say the least. I feel confident that will continue.”

Rollo said Huffman is “on the right path” and requested he be given an alternative sentence to continue to address his issues.

“Clearly this past two years has shown that Jeremy is on the right path…,” Rollo said. “There’s no real reason to think he’s not going to continue. …”

Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker said while he has some concerns he would not object to Huffman receiving an alternative sentence. Parker said he was additionally concerned that Huffman’s attempt to withdraw his plea showed he was minimizing responsibility for his actions.

“Your honor, in looking at the facts and circumstances of this case, the state has some significant concerns about the fact that the defendant had his one-and-a-half year old child with him when this offense was committed,” Parker said.

He noted the pre-sentence investigation report, however, boded in Huffman’s favor.

“I think the demonstration over the last 20 months or two years of what he’s done while he’s been on a bond is a pretty good indicator in his ability to comply with terms and conditions the court may deem appropriate in the event he is granted an alternative sentence…,” Parker said.

Steptoe said he felt an alternative sentence is appropriate, given Huffman’s performance.

“The old adage that actions speak louder than words has, in my experience, proven to be true. Twenty months of sobriety is an impressive record…,” Steptoe said.

According to the criminal complaint, former Trooper J.B. Tindal of the Elkins detachment of the West Virginia State Police saw a red Dodge Caravan driving on U.S. 219 without its headlights on at around 7:47 p.m. March 29, 2014.

After initiating a traffic stop, Tindal wrote in the criminal complaint the Caravan’s motor vehicle inspection sticker was expired as of Aug. 8, 2012. Tindal identified the driver as Huffman and said he “noticed his eyes were bloodshot, as well as a strong smell of alcohol coming from the driver’s side window.” Tindal wrote he asked Huffman if he had been drinking, which Huffman denied but added he had spilled some alcohol in the vehicle.

Tindal returned to his cruiser to check Huffman’s information with the Division of Motor Vehicles, when he discovered that Huffman’s license was revoked on Oct. 10, 2012, and that he had two prior DUI convictions, dating as far back as October 2006, the complaint reads.

Tindal noticed Huffman exit his vehicle and grab his chest, “stating that he thought he was going to have a heart attack,” the complaint states. Tindal contacted EMS to respond. When Tindal went to tend to Huffman, he observed “empty Milwaukee’s Best Ice cans in the floor of the vehicle, as well as a paper bag containing an opened bottle of Kentucky Gentleman whiskey.” Tindal also wrote he “observed a juvenile two years of age” in the vehicle.

Emergency officials responded and transported Huffman to Davis Medical Center to be treated for chest pains, Tindal wrote.

Also in Randolph County Circuit Court:

Anna Marie Williams, 39, of Beverly, was sentenced to up to 18 months in regional jail, suspended for two years of supervised probation.

Additionally, Williams must complete 250 hours of community service and pay restitution in an amount to be determined by the Randolph County Probation Office.

Williams pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of fraudulent schemes, a lesser included offense of one felony count of the same charge, and one misdemeanor count of fraudulent use of an access device, a lesser included offense of one felony count of the same charge, as part of a plea agreement on Sept. 30.

Michael Lynn Zirkle, 40, of Flemington, pleaded guilty to one felony count of obtaining money, property and services by false pretenses, as part of a plea agreement.

Per the agreement, the state dismissed one felony count of the same charge.

Zirkle will be required to pay restitution to Bob’s Automotive in the amount of $1,068.67, and Woodford Oil in the amount of $1,657.73.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Jan. 25.