Pre-trial hearing ends in discussion of plea deal

BUCKHANNON — On Wednesday, April 13, Tylor James Arbogast, age 29 of Buckhannon, appeared in court virtually for a pre-trial hearing for charges received last year. Judge Kurt Hall presided, with Brian Hinkle present as prosecuting attorney and James Hawkins Jr. representing the defense.

Arbogast has been held at Tygart Valley Regional Jail following an incident on Thursday, May 6, 2021. Arbogast was seen fleeing from the scene of an active fire that destroyed the Holly Apartment complex in Adrian and proceeded to damage a 2010 Chevy Silverado. Arbogast damaged the truck by smashing the windshield with a rock after he jumped onto the hood of the truck. He had also busted the side window, putting the driver in fear of injury. When law enforcement and firefighters arrived at the scene, Arbogast was kicking, head-butting and biting. A firefighter obtained a bite to the stomach and Arbogast resisted arrest until he was finally subdued. Arbogast was charged with misdemeanors, including battery on government official, assault, obstructing an officer and a felony charge for destruction of property.

Arbogast was present virtually for the pre-trial. The court noted that Dr. Rush had completed a competency examination on Arbogast that the court received earlier this month. The results provided by Dr. Rush determined Arbogast is competent to stand trial, but his report also noted that there was also an issue of diminished capacity secondary to the defendant having been on methamphetamine. Judge Hall noted that the non-moving party in the court can disagree with those findings. The prosecution represented by Brian Hinkle requested a secondary competency examination specifically regarding the report of diminished capacity by Dr. Rush. Judge Hall granted the motion. However, the defendant then requested to speak with his attorney as Arbogast wanted to defer undergoing another psychological evaluation and wanted to move forward with entering a plea. Judge Hall noted that no paperwork had been submitted regarding a plea agreement but he would entertain it. The court then took a brief recess for the discussion to continue off the record.

Following the recess, it was determined that Arbogast will plead guilty to the felony offense of destruction of property. Chapter 61 of West Virginia State Code stated, “Any person who unlawfully, willfully and intentionally destroys, injures or defaces the real or personal property of one or more other persons or entities during the same act, series of acts or course of conduct causing a loss in the value of the property in an amount of $2,500 or more, is guilty of the felony offense of destruction of property and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $2,500 or imprisoned in the state correctional facility for not less than one year nor more than ten years, or in the discretion of the court, confined in the county or regional jail not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned.”

Judge Hall educated Arbogast on this and further elaborated that Arbogast may not receive time served as part of his sentencing. Arbogast noted he understood. Judge Hall also educated the defendant on the current plea offer in which the state will accept Arbogast’s guilty plea on the felony charge and then will dismiss the misdemeanor charges. Arbogast agreed to this. Judge Hall asked Arbogast questions after him being placed under oath and again Arbogast agreed to the current plea offer. In addition to the plea offer, Judge Hall noted a request to have a pre-sentencing investigation report to obtain the defendant’s family, work, drug and criminal history to determine if Arbogast would be a candidate for probation or alternate sentencing. Hawkins, who was present to represent the defendant, made a note to be put on the record that Arbogast would be waiving his right and interest to the issue of diminished capacity as part of the plea deal as well.

Furthermore, Judge Hall educated Arbogast that to plead guilty would require the defendant to provide a factual basis on the events, essentially explaining to what made him guilty. Arbogast confirmed his understanding and court dismissed. A plea is set to be entered on Tuesday, April 19 at 10 a.m. Arbogast will also be required to attend court in-person.


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