BUCKHANNON — A Monday morning court hearing that never transpired was essentially a repeat of last Wednesday in Upshur County Magistrate Court.
Asad D. Khan’s co-defendant and former “business partner,” Michael L. Morehead, age 43, was scheduled to appear before specially appointed Magistrate Michael Gissy on Dec. 28 for a hearing on his misdemeanor charge for anonymously publishing a false and defamatory campaign website. However, after several media outlets waited in an empty courtroom for the hearing to begin, a bailiff finally emerged to say the parties met “virtually” and continued the hearing.
Morehead and Khan were previously arraigned in August on charges of forbidden acts in the circulation of written matter that violates the regulation and control of election laws. According to court documents, the pair allegedly collaborated in the publication and circulation of materials to aid in the defeat of Buckhannon City Council candidate Sheila Sines. The criminal complaint that originated on or about Feb. 22, 2020, stated that Morehead and Khan both admitted to their conspiracy to create false and defamatory political ads against Sines, and also confessed to creating and using an alias of Jackson Hartman on Facebook to spread bias in the local 2020 election.
Morehead was also subsequently charged in May 2020 with violation of a protective order for allegedly threatening and harassing his co-defendant, Asad Khan. Deputy D. Linger met with Khan to review messages that were reportedly sent by Morehead after he was served with a protective order that prohibited any contact. According to the criminal complaint, the messages included Morehead asking Khan, “Whose names were not mentioned during your broadcast, Asad? Who was our third (actually first) musketeer? And how could you possibly forget our occasional fourth musketeer?” Other messages Morehead allegedly sent Khan prior to the issuance of a protective order included, “I will drop you where I find you. Permanently. And I will serve the time with a smile on my face. Why because I don’t give a shit.” Court documents stated that another message from Morehead read, “Watch your back window at night…”
Before leaving the Courthouse, Magistrate Gissy told media that Morehead and his attorney had called in and requested the hearing be continued. Consequently, this was Gissy’s last chance to hear the case as he will retire in January. Accompanying him to Upshur County on Wednesday were newly elected Lewis County Magistrates Brycen Williams and LJ McCue. When asked who will now be presiding over the Khan and Morehead cases following Gissy’s retirement, Williams and Gissy both said that will be decided by the Circuit Judge.
Despite the victim’s frustration with repeated continuances in these criminal matters, no hearing dates have been rescheduled and the defendants remain free on bond.