Court sentences men for battery, fleeing and more

BUCKHANNON — The man who was found guilty in a jury trial of misdemeanor battery in December was sentenced Monday in Upshur County Circuit Court.

Eric Wayne Lewis, 42, had stood trial for domestic battery third offense and malicious assault, both felonies, stemming from an April 15, 2017 incident in which he was alleged to have beaten the victim in a vehicle before she was able to escape and drive back to her mother’s residence.

Instead, the jury found Lewis guilty of the misdemeanor.

Following a pre-sentence investigation, Lewis was in court Monday before Judge Kurt Hall for sentencing.

Lewis told the court he couldn’t deny his lengthy criminal history but said it was related to emotional distress from events he endured in his childhood.

“Now, I am ready to deal with the issues,” he said.“Now, I am ready to deal with the issues,” he said. “I always looked at is as you guys were the weapon. You were out to get to me. Now I can see that maybe this is the opportunity to try to use the courts to point me in the right direction.”

The victim in the case, who did not testify during the trial, was present at the sentencing.

“I think that instead of being incarcerated any more time he needs some counseling and help,” she said. “He is a whole different person sober. I think drug counseling will do some good for him.”

Hall told Lewis that he looked at his prior criminal history which included multiple domestic counts, drug issues and driving on a suspended license.

“There have been a lot of people who had the same or similar things happen that you did and they didn’t lash out at the world,” he said.

Lewis didn’t receive help as a child and the judge noted that was out of Lewis’s control.

“For that, I’m sorry,” the judge said. “Ever since you became an adult, everything that happened has been in your control.”

He also noted that Lewis had good representation in his attorney, Dennis Willett.

“You were fortunate to come out of this with only a battery,” he said. “I think at this point in your career with a lengthy criminal history, you can probably just expect you are going to do the time. You are fortunate that all the court can give you is a year in jail and a $500 fine with credit for time served in this case.”

Hall said he would order court costs to be paid in 180 days, the fine to be paid in a year and would waive any court appointed fees.

Following the sentence, Lewis was arraigned on a felony failure to appear case and pleaded not guilty. Hall set bond at $100,000.

James Lipps II, 43, was sentenced for fleeing with reckless disregard to the safety of others, a felony. A jury returned the guilty verdict in November for the case in which Lipps led Upshur County sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase through Lewis and into Harrison County where he was stopped at Jerry Dove Drive with the assistance of other authorities.

Prosecuting attorney David Godwin recommended two to five years in prison and said Lipps had not accepted responsibility for his behavior.

“The facts in this case are pretty egregious,” he said.

Judge Jacob Reger sentenced Lipps to one to five years in prison for the conviction but noted because of the recidivism statute, that minimum sentence would be doubled to be two to five years.

However, the judge gave Lipps credit for the 289 days he had served thus far in the case.

Lipps will also be responsible for a $1,000 fine and for $3,355.81 in restitution —$500 to the Upshur County Commission for their deductible and the remaining $2,755.81 to the insurance company.

Lipps was represented in the case by attorney Hunter Simmons.

Elisha Duzan, 22, was returned from the Anthony Center for Youthful Male Offenders as being unfit for the program.

Assistant prosecuting attorney Kelley Cunningham recommended Monday the terms of the original plea agreement — one to 15 years in prison for daytime burglary and one year to run concurrent with the daytime burglary sentence for petit larceny. Duzan should also pay restitution of $54 to Mark Harper and $175 in the other case for which he has joint and several liability with codefendants for stealing items from the B-UHS concession stand.

Willet, Duzan’s attorney, noted that although Duzan was returned from the Anthony Center, he managed to earn his GED and an additional certification.

“While he was there he was making strides to complete all his classes and did in fact complete quite a bit of them,” he said. “His behavior down there may not have been exemplary, but I would ask the court to consider that he has demonstrated that he can accomplish something and to consider alternatives such as home confinement.”

Duzan noted he had worked hard to complete his GED and his certification. “I’m ready to put all this childhood stuff behind me and I want to get a job and maybe a college degree,” he said.

Duzan asked for a chance at home confinement.

“If I mess up one time, then throw the book at me,” he said.

However, Hall said, “Mr. Duzan, the Anthony Center was your one chance and I don’t know how you managed to accomplish getting all these certificates when you look at your behavior problems.”

Some of the problems noted at the Anthony Center were assault and battery, kicking an offender in the face, refusal to work, refusal to attend class, yelling derogatives at correctional officers, threats and refusing orders, according to Hall.

“I can’t reward you when you come back here,” he said. “The court is going to sentence you to not less than one nor more than 15 years [for the felony], give you credit for all time served — and you have quite a bit of credit.”

For the misdemeanor, Hall sentenced Duzan to a year to run concurrent with the other sentence. Duzan was also ordered to pay restitution of $54 to Mark Harper and $175 to the Upshur County Board of Education and to pay court costs within one year. Court-appointed attorney fees were waived.

Hall encouraged Duzan to proceed with job and college after he serves his sentence. “You can’t get through life lashing out at people anytime you are told to do something,” he said.

“It’s not going to work. You have a whole life ahead of you so don’t waste it.”

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