Randolph man sentenced in petit larceny

ELKINS — A Randolph County man accused of attempting to steal more than $1,000 worth of merchandise from a local retail store was sentenced after entering into a plea agreement in Randolph County Magistrate Court.

Brandon Edward Hepler, 31, of Elkins, was sentenced to one year in jail. That sentence was suspended for one year of unsupervised probation. He was also ordered to pay a $100 fine and court costs.

Hepler pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of petit larceny, as part of a plea agreement. The prosecution dismissed the original charge of one felony count of attempted grand larceny.

Randolph County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Leckta Poling represented the state while Hepler appeared with Melissa Roman as defense counsel. Randolph County Magistrate Rob Elbon presided.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Randolph County Magistrate Court, on May 10, Elkins Police Department Cpl. A.M. Wyshyvanuk was dispatched to Dollar General Store along Harrison Avenue in Elkins regarding a shoplifting complaint.

Upon arrival, Wyshyvanuk was informed that a male individual had stacked plastic totes full of merchandise against a fire door in the back room and attempted to leave through the door; however, he was unable to do so because the door was blocked from the outside, police said.

Wyshyvanuk viewed surveillance footage of the back room and attempted to gather fingerprints from several surfaces touched by the man, according to the complaint. The officer was able to obtain four fingerprints, which were sent to the West Virginia State Police forensic laboratory.

He also instructed store employees to make an itemized list of the items placed next to the door. The list totaled 203 items that were valued at $1,203.05, the complaint states.

Wyshyvanuk received a report from the forensic laboratory on June 3, which indicated prints were matched to the left middle and ring fingers of Hepler, police said. A handwritten statement was also produced by a store employee that said, “On 5-10-2017 (sic) I saw a tall white male in a grey shirt and white ball cap. I showed him the location of a few items while he looked around. He had been in the store for a while already and stayed about 20 minutes after that. From the tape, the total time was 2 (sic) hour and 30 minutes I only noticed for the last bit.

“A customer reported an alarm so I left the register and went to the back where I found many totes of items against the opened fire exit door,” the statement continued. “After finding the items, I watched the footage over and saw the man I had helped trying to open the door and then leaving out the front. He was also the one that moved the items to the door.”

The employee also told Wyshyvanuk that Hepler was not an employee of the store and should not have been in the back room, according to the complaint.

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