Legislators, prosecutors should address issue

In October 2016, Ryan Hubbs, of Paris, Ohio, robbed a woman in Lewis County, West Virginia, and took her car. He fled north on Interstate 79 and, in Marion County, caused an accident that killed two people.

He pleaded guilty to robbery in Lewis County and was sentenced to 10-18 years in prison. He was charged with two counts of murder in Marion County.

Hubbs may never pay for killing the two people there, however.

In 2018, a Marion County judge ruled Hubbs could not be tried for the murders because that would have violated guarantees against double jeopardy — in essence, being punished twice for the same offense.

Last week, the state Supreme Court declined to review the case, noting state code prohibits that in such situations.

The Marion County judge’s ruling was based on the fact Hubbs had been convicted already on the underlying offense that led to two people dying.

At least some high court justices were troubled by what they had to do. In their decision, they noted better communication between prosecutors in Lewis and Marion counties would have prevented the problem.

Obviously, county prosecutors should coordinate cases in such situations. State legislators should address the problem, too. This seems to be a dilemma in which the law prohibits use of common sense.


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