No prison time for accused shooter
An Elkins woman who allegedly accidentally shot a man in the back while she was under the influence of alcohol was sentenced on drug-related charges Friday in Randolph County Circuit Court.
Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong gave Samantha Ashley Armentrout, 23, one “last chance,” ordering her to serve five years of supervised probation with the condition that she successfully complete the adult drug court program. If Armentrout discharges her sentence without violations, she won’t see additional time in jail.
During Armentrout’s hearing, Wilfong sentenced Armentrout to one to five years in the state penitentiary on one felony count of conspiracy; six months in the regional jail on one misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, cocaine; and six months in the regional jail on one misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance, marijuana. These sentences will run consecutively; however, Wilfong suspended the imposition of the prison sentences and ordered that Armentrout instead be interviewed for adult drug court and complete five years of supervised probation. Armentrout pleaded guilty to the three charges in Circuit Court on March 8.
“I’m going to be very clear with you: this is your last chance,” Wilfong said, referring to two instances in which Armentrout absconded – first from the North Central Community Corrections program and then from a drug rehabilitation program. “If you take off from drug court, you will be immediately terminated from the program. This is about what will keep you from re-offending in the future. I think after spending 300 days there, you’ve gotten the gist of what jail feels like.”
Armentrout’s attorney, William T. Nestor, said Armentrout has spent exactly 301 days in jail since she allegedly accidentally shot Timothy Myers Jr. in the back near his right shoulder blade on May 31, 2012, while trying to demonstrate that a pistol was unloaded. Police also reported finding a “substantial” amount of illegal narcotics at the residence and noted Armentrout was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the alleged crime, according to previous reports.
Nestor said he wanted the community to know Armentrout hadn’t intentionally shot Myers.
“Make no mistake: the investigation that was done showed that this was an accident,” Nestor said. “The gun that shot Timothy Myers was a gun that he had traded for drugs. It’s not funny, but it certainly is ironic.”
Nestor said Armentrout was “clearly salvageable” – her underlying drug addiction just needed to be addressed.
“She’s spent 301 days in jail for three weeks of getting high and making bad decisions,” Nestor said. “She wants to be with her son. She wants to go to college.”
Armentrout told Wilfong she’d missed her son’s fifth birthday and she didn’t want the same to be true of his sixth. Armentrout will be transported from jail to her first session of adult drug court, which is slated for Tuesday.
- Also on Friday, Wilfong sentenced Kenneth Wayne Hatfield, 59, of Elkins, to one to five years in the state penitentiary on one felony count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, marijuana, and ordered that he pay a $5,000 fine.
Police nabbed Hatfield with 7 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle during a routine traffic stop June 21, 2012, according to previous reports.
Hatfield’s attorney, Matthew Fair, said Hatfield was seriously injured in a work-related accident in the 1980s and has since self-medicated to cope with “chronic and severe” hip and back pain.
“He’s unable to do anything because of his injuries ,so his day basically consists of sitting around and watching TV, maybe driving around,” Fair said. “He’s passed every drug test offered to him.”
Fair asked that Wilfong impose an alternate sentence, suggesting home confinement with GPS monitoring.
However, Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker opposed alternate sentencing, highlighting the large amount of marijuana with which Hatfield was caught.
“The fact that all his drug screens have been negative indicates he’s clearly a dealer,” Parker said. “That’s the most of amount of marijuana I’ve seen … clearly his intent was to distribute it all around Randolph County.”
Wilfong called the amount of marijuana in Hatfield’s possession “obscene.”
“I had to laugh when I looked at the actual amount in the pictures because I’ve never seen that much in my career,” the judge said. “I know some people say marijuana is harmless and it should be legal, but the fact is, it’s not legal in West Virginia, and some of the states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes are trying to roll it back because it’s actually led to an increase in violent crime.”
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.