Judge speaks of complaints during court

ELKINS – One week after admitting to having a relationship with the head of a regional alternative sentencing program, Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong heard a variety of motions in Randolph County Circuit Court Thursday.

Wilfong began each proceeding involving Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker or attorney Chris Cooper by stating she was the subject of ethics complaints from both Parker and Cooper.

Wilfong gave the parties involved in the respective hearings the option to request another judge to hear their cases. None of the parties requested another judge, and Wilfong presided over all of the cases on the docket for the day.

Speaking after the hearings, Parker said Wilfong’s comments were a precaution to prevent a conflict of interest in the proceedings. Both Parker and Cooper acknowledged, while speaking to The Inter-Mountain after the hearings, that they had filed complaints against Wilfong.

Last week Wilfong told The Inter-Mountain she had been involved with Travis Carter, the director of the North Central Community Corrections program.

Wilfong self-reported the relationship to the Judicial Investigation Commission, and said three other subsequent reports were filed in the matter.

Carter was suspended by the Randolph County Commission Oct. 16, initially without pay. The Commission revised its decision Oct. 17, opting to pay Carter during his absence.

Also in Circuit Court on Thursday:

– Amber Lee Ratliff, Jr., 35, of Elkins, pleaded guilty to five counts of third- degree sexual assault and was sentenced to one to five years in a state correctional facility. Each sentence is to run consecutively.

Ratliff had been arrested for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, according to court documents.

– A competency hearing for Theodore Newlon, 82, of Kerens, who was indicted in June on one count of murder and one count of wanton endangerment, was rescheduled for Dec. 18. Newlon is currently housed at Sharpe Hospital in Weston.

Newlon was accused of fatally shooting his wife, 69-year-old Dora Lee Newlon, in his home in February 2012.

– Jeremy Lee Summerfield, 20, formerly of Elkins, was sentenced to one to three years in a state correctional facility for one count of attempt of breaking and entering, a felony, and one to five years in a state correctional facility for one count of conspiracy, a felony. Those sentences were suspended after time served and Summerfield was put on five years supervised probation.

– The trial date for Rebecca Blankenship, 38, of Huttonsville was set for Jan. 14, with jury selection slated on Jan. 7 and a pre-trial conference set for Jan. 2.

In March, Blankenship pleaded not guilty to one count of driving while license was revoked for DUI, third or subsequent offense, a felony; one count of no insurance, a misdemeanor; and one count of no registration, a misdemeanor.

– Crystal Bennett, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of felony child neglect creating risk of injury and could face one to five years in a state correctional facility.

When Wilfong asked Bennett what she had done to make her guilty of the charge, Bennett admitted to taking her 7-year-old child’s ADHD medication with alcohol, causing her to pass out. Bennett advised that a family member was present to look after the child.

Wilfong asked Bennett to elaborate on how that put her child at risk. Parker explained that the state had a quote from the plea agreement that Bennett signed that stated the family member who was allegedly watching the child was involved in a sex offender case that was currently pending with the state.

Contact Chad Clem by e-mail at cclem@theintermountain.com.