By Bobby Bordelon
The Greenbrier County Circuit Court heard updates on several cases throughout the week, including several shootings, a case of solicitation, and an update to a previously dismissed case.
Kip Sears permitted to remain on bond
After admitting to using fentanyl while enrolled in the Greenbrier County Home Incarceration program, Kip Sears was allowed to continue home incarceration on bond after the completion of a 28-day residential drug treatment program.
Considered by Greenbrier County Circuit Court Judge Robert Richardson, Sears’ case stems from a January shooting in which one victim was injured and flown to a Virginia medical center for treatment.
“At approximately 12:10 a.m. on January 07, 2020, members of the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office and the WV State Police responded to [reports] of a shooting at a residence on Brush Road near Maxwelton,” reads the press release issued by the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department after Sears arrest. “During the initial investigation officers would learn that the residents of the home were awakened by someone yelling outside and a vehicle was observed in their driveway. The subjects outside were yelling and inquiring as to the whereabouts of two individuals, neither of whom were known by the occupants of the home. They were then told to leave the premises. One of the subjects then fired multiple gunshots at the residence from a small caliber firearm. One of those discharged rounds ultimately struck a teenage resident inside the house.”
In March, bond was reduced for Sears from $70,000 to $40,000 and subsequently he was released. However, according to a filing by the prosecution, Sears violated the bond.
“Do you understand that the state is alleging that you violated the terms and conditions of your bond by the use of illicit substances, specifically fentanyl?” asked Richardson.
“Yes sir,” Sears said.
The August 30 hearing saw Sears admit to the use, acknowledging the violation of his bond conditions.
“Do you understand that if you admit to this violation, your bond could be revoked and you could be held in the regional jail pending your trial in this case?” Richardson asked.
“Yes sir,” Sears said.
Upon the recommendation of the state, Sears was placed back on bond and in the Home Incarceration program. The state had previously pushed against the reduction of Sear’s bond. In addition, he must complete a residential drug treatment program lasting at least 28 days.
“Failure to complete that program, … any violation of the program rules that would result in the defendant’s discharge from the program … would be violations of the terms and conditions of bond,” Richardson said. “… He will continue to be supervised by the Home Confinement program pending his entry into a residential substance abuse treatment program.”
After allowing the bond to remain in place, Richardson also left Sears with a warning.
“Mr. Sears, I want to make it absolutely clear to you that, in the meantime, that you’re not allowed to use drugs,” Richardson said. “Another violation of your bond, another motion to revoke you bond could be filed. I’m really concerned about any person under supervision of our Home Confinement program, … [who is] using fentanyl. That is an extremely dangerous drug and … it’s putting your own life at risk. It is not a license for you to engage in the kind of conduct that’s described in the state’s motion that you’ve admitted [to doing]. Do you understand that?
“Yes sir, thank you sir,” Sears said.
Bragg Case Continued
A status hearing was heard in the case of Hampton Bragg, with Bragg dismissing his right to a speedy trial for this term of court. Both the prosecution and defense agreed they were not ready for the case to move forward this term. Bragg was arrested and indicted on charges of solicitation of a minor.
Carter case to be expunged
Donald Carter requested an expungement of a case against him that was dropped in March. In an expungement, files related to the case are sealed, unavailable to the public.
Originally indicted for sexual abuse and assault, Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via agreed that dismissing the case was the right way forward “after lengthy conversations with the parent of the alleged victim.” As the matter prepared to go to trial, the defense attempted to subpoena a number of mental health records of the alleged victim.
“It is without prejudice so it being the allegation of a felony, it has the potential to be revisited, but I wanted the court to know that this … is very substantive,” Via said during the March hearing.
The charges dismissed, Greenbrier County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dent agreed to the expungement, pending an order.
Smith-Allen to go to trial
Edward Smith-Allen heard a pre-trial status hearing, with jury questions and arrangements were partly reviewed. Dent noted that only 32 potential jurors could be in the room at the same time for jury selection, and that the upstairs and downstairs courtrooms are now connected by video and audio, allowing the public to attend the trial while social distancing.
There is another hearing scheduled before Smith-Allen goes on trial for his alleged role in the murder of Alaisia M. Smith in Dorie Miller Park on June 7, 2019.