Judge denies suppression motion in Tucker DUI case
PARSONS – A motion to suppress statements made regarding a DUI case was denied Tuesday in Tucker County Circuit Court.
Kandice Sponaugle, 24, of 401 Main St., Parsons, was indicted in February on third offense DUI. On Tuesday, Tucker County Circuit Judge Lynn A. Nelson refused to exclude statements Sponaugle made to police.
Sponaugle’s attorney, Pat Nichols, said his question was that the state contends Sponaugle was the one operating the vehicle after she and Katie Phillips allegedly drove it from a West Virginia State Trooper’s home, across the road and into an embankment on Nov. 4 in Parsons.
“I have reviewed both police reports – one on Katie Phillips and one on my client,” Nichols said. “In Katie Phillips’ report, it says she told Trooper (Jacob) Kopec that Kandice was driving. In Kandice’s report, it says Kandice made a report to Trooper (D.W.) Burge that she was driving. There are no written statements. There are no written interviews. So I would imagine it is somewhat of an utterance at that time that we are talking about.”
Nichols said he and his client believe that Kopec told the women to remain at his home until Burge got there.
“So there is the error of an arrest, and that is the basis of the motion to suppress the statements,” Nichols said.
Burge testified Tuesday that on Nov. 4 both he and Kopec worked past midnight.
“I drove home to Elkins,” Burge said. “I got a phone call that Kopec was requesting I come back out to help him with a possible DUI. The call came from Elkins’ communications. On my way over here, I contacted him to find out what was going on.”
Burge said Kopec said Phillips and Sponaugle had stopped by his house and woke him up.
“He said he told them to leave because he was asleep,” Burge said. “He said a few minutes after they left, he heard a loud thump and saw headlights shining into the trees. The girls returned to his house.”
“He advised that Kandice Sponaugle had told him she had backed out of his driveway and into the field,” Burge said. “She asked him to take his truck and a pull chain to get them out. He advised me that he then smelled the odor of alcohol on their breath and told them he would not pull them out. He said he went in and called dispatch.”
Burge said when he got to Kopec’s residence, both women appeared to be very intoxicated.
“(Phillips) told me she drove to Rowlesburg and they were drinking,” Burge said. “She said she drove to Trooper Kopec’s house and she advised that somewhere between first and second Holly Meadows (Road) that she and Sponaugle had a conversation about wanting to stop at Trooper Kopec’s house and have a threesome.”
Burge said Phillips told him both women were intoxicated and both agreed it was a good idea, so they pulled into Kopec’s driveway. Burge said Phillips told him they went to the house and Kopec told them he was tired and to leave.
Burge said Phillips told him Sponaugle jumped into the driver’s seat when they were leaving and drove down the driveway, across the road and into the field.
“I talked to Sponaugle, who refused to talk to me,” Burge said. “She finally said that Phillips was the only one driving.”
Burge said after a tow truck was called, Kopec told him he did not know which woman was driving the vehicle. Burge said he did a field sobriety test on both women and they both failed.
“At that point I read the Miranda Rights to both of them, and neither one wanted to give me a written statement,” Burge said. “During that time, Miss Sponaugle, at least two times at Kopec’s house and once in the city building, offered Miss Phillips $2,000 cash to ‘take the rap for this because this will be my third offense DUI.'”
Nelson asked if that statement was in response to any question. Burge said it was not.
Tucker County Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora III said he advised Nichols the state has entered into a verbal agreement with Phillips regarding her misdemeanor charge for DUI in regard to the Nov. 4 incident.
About five minutes after Burge’s testimony, Kopec appeared in court to take the stand. His testimony did not confict with Burge’s. Kopec was never asked Tuesday about any alleged sexual intent regarding Sponaugle and Phillips’ visit to his home.
Sponaugle was present in the courtroom Tuesday but did not testify. Phillips was not present at Tuesday’s hearing.
Nelson ruled Spongaugle’s alleged Nov. 4 statements would be admissible. He set Sponaugle’s jury selection for 9 a.m. July 15, with the trial to follow immediately afterward.
Also in Tucker County Circuit Court Tuesday:
- Michael Hartzell, 47, of 676 Mulberry Ave., Clarksburg, was granted a continuance in his plea agreement hearing. Hartzell did not appear in court Tuesday because of a communication gap, according to LaMora. The hearing is now slated for 9:30 a.m. May 5.
Hartzell was indicted in February on one count of bribery in an official matter.
- James Ray Waybright, 47, of 458 Smokey Hollow Road, Parsons, appeared before Nelson with his attorney, John Cooper, requesting a modification of bond.
Waybright was charged with sexual assault in the second degree -a felony. He was being held in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $10,000 cash only bond, which was set by Tucker County Magistrate Riley Barb.
Cooper asked that Waybright’s bond be dropped to $5,000 personal recognizance and $5,000 cash or surety.
LaMora said the state had no objection to the modification as long as Waybright agreed to have no direct or indirect contact with the alleged victim or her husband.
“If contact is made with the victim or her husband, his bond needs to be revoked,” LaMora said. “He would need to be reincarcerated.”
The criminal complaint in Tucker County Magistrate Court, prepared by Chief Deputy E.C. Surguy of the Tucker County Sheriff’s Office, said Waybright allegedly had sexual intercourse with the alleged victim on July 4 after she told him she did not want to have sex with him.
- David Lee Close, 35, of 106 Thornwood Lane, Parsons, appeared with his attorney Tim Prentice. Close was indicted in February on one count of malicious wounding.
LaMora asked for a continuance in the case, because he is still attempting to get records from West Virginia University Hospital. Close’s hearing was reslated for 10 a.m. June 9.
All individuals named are presumed innocent until proven guilty.