By Lyra Bordelon
Content Warning – this story concerns crime of a sexual nature
The sentencing of Melvin Propps for a 2010 incest criminal case was changed after part of the sentence was found to be illegal by Greenbrier County Circuit Court Judge Robert Richardson, according to federal case law.
On Apr. 26, 2011, Propps plead guilty to one count of felony incest, with the state dismissing 11 other charges, including indictments for sexual assault in the first degree, sexual abuse by a parent, and incest, as part of the plea deal. The court found he was “an abusing parent” and sentenced him to five to 15 years in prison, lifetime extended supervision, and required him to register as a sexual offender. According to court filings, Propps was released from prison on July 28, 2017, and began his probation and supervised released the same day.
However, a new motion was filed by Propps’ defense in 2020, asking for the termination of the lifetime supervised release. According to the motion, the extended supervision provision was created on June 6, 2003, by the West Virginia Legislature. In his plea, Propps confirmed the crime occurred between Feb. 19, 2002, and May 2005.
“Thus, Mr. Propps sentencing raises a question of first impression in West Virginia,” the defense motion reads. “When the defendant pleads guilty to conduct that occurred at a specific time, but the indictment to which the defendant pleads covers a range of time and the penalties for his offense change during that range of time, what penalties control?”
According to the filing, a federal 2006 case, U.S. vs Tykarsky, the original sentencing guidelines should apply. In the June 22 hearing, Richardson ruled the sentence was illegal and supervised probation was to be removed. The electronic monitor would also be removed. Although Propps was not given a sex offender sentencing evaluation as part of his original sentencing, one was conducted in 2019 and the new order would required him to register as a sex offender.
“Overall the evaluation indicated that based on static factors, Mr. Propps is in the low to average risk of re-offending,” the defense’s motion to terminated extended supervision reads. “His dynamic factors decrease his risk of re-offending. The evaluation indicated that ‘it is unlikely that he will re-offend, even if living within the proximity of a neighborhood park.’
Part of the motion explained that a particular part of the original sentencing, that he could not live within two blocks of a park, be stricken.
“This condition is particularly damaging to Mr. Propps because he has purchased and is in the process of renovating a home that is within this two-block exclusion zone, but not near any place that children would congregate, in that it is nearest to the outfield of a baseball diamond and significantly removed from that.”