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Man sentenced after high-speed motorcycle chase

ELKINS — An Elkins man who led officers of the Elkins Police Department on a high-speed motorcycle chase was sentenced to one to five years in prison this week in Randolph County Circuit Court.

Steven James Phares, 31, was indicted by a grand jury in October for one count of fleeing in a vehicle with reckless indifference, a felony, one count of fleeing from an officer by any means other than the use of a vehicle, a misdemeanor, one count of reckless driving, a misdemeanor, one count of no insurance, a misdemeanor, three counts of failure to stop at a posted stop sign, a misdemeanor, and one count of operating a motor vehicle exceeding speed limitations, a misdemeanor.

According to the criminal complaint, prepared by Senior Patrolman C.G. Boatwright of the EPD, Phares was riding his motorcycle without registration on Scott Ford Road on Sept. 8, 2019.

When Boatwright attempted to make a traffic stop, the motorcyclist accelerated to approximately 50 mph, the complaint states.

The chase continued down Ward Road and onto the Beverly Five-Lane at speeds in excess of 110 mph.

“Mr. Phares is a 31-year-old young man who comes from a military family,” Phares’ attorney, Gregory Tingler, said during the sentencing hearing Wednesday. “His father started that tradition by serving in the Air Force… Two of his siblings are actually still in the Navy, and Steven did a stint in the Navy from 2006 to 2010.”

Tingler stated that he had spoken with Phares’ family throughout the trial and they agreed that his behavior was “not where he should’ve gone in his life.”

Phares faced a drug charge, a misdemeanor, in 2016 but otherwise had a clean criminal record before this, Tingler said.

“It’s really about misusing substances. He understands that and he’s a year clean,” said Tingler. “He hasn’t had any violations (while on bond), he hasn’t been in any trouble.”

“If you look at the offense to which he pled, fleeing with reckless indifference, that’s not the type of crime that’s premeditated,” he said.

“That’s a flight or fight response in reaction to seeing those lights. Mr. Phares made a really bad decision and he recognizes that.”

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Richard Shryock Jr. remained silent in response.

Judge David Wilmoth noted instances in which Phares displayed concerning behavior.

“You have a prior failure to appear… Frankly, the thing that concerns me the most, Mr. Phares, is the impression that I got from you during the plea hearing we had that this was a game,” Wilmoth said.

“This is a high-speed chase, you were on a motorcycle while this was going on… When this took place, you were speeding in excess of 100 miles an hour on a motorcycle.”

“As I do recall, at the plea hearing, what I thought was a really, really poor attitude about the charge, your involvement, and the nature of what took place,” Wilmoth said.

Wilmoth also noted a history of domestic violence charges for Phares that dated back to 2010.

“I understand that you’re going to have a job when you get out and you have 244 days of credit,” Wilmoth said. “For the offense of fleeing with reckless indifference, (you) should be sentenced to a period of incarceration for not less than one or more than five years. I want you to go back to custody and I want you to finish the time … You have a drug problem and I want you to work on getting treatment for that.”

Also sentenced in Randolph County Circuit Court on Wednesday were Keith Watson, Virginia Fortney, Laura Watson and Milton Broseker.

Keith Watson and Virginia Fortney were arrested in June 2019 for one count each of possession with intent to deliver marijuana, a felony charge.

Watson, represented by Tingler, was sentenced to five years of supervised probation with permission to visit his sick father in Ohio.

Fortney, represented by attorney Brent Easton, was also sentenced to five years of probation in addition to a corrections program.

Also sentenced on Wednesday was Milton Broseker, who was arrested in January for a third DUI offense, a felony. He was previously convicted for DUIs in May and September of 2012.

While out on bond, Broseker failed a drug screen for marijuana. Judge Wilmoth sentenced Broseker to six months in regional jail.

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