BUCKHANNON — A local woman facing felony drug charges accepted a plea agreement and proceeded straight to sentencing last Thursday morning.
Ashley Marie Johnson, age 28, attended her hearing with Circuit Judge Kurt Hall via video conference from Tygart Valley Regional Jail. The matter was scheduled for jury trial this term of court, but her attorney, James Hawkins, Jr. told the Court she wanted to accept a plea agreement, waive her pre-sentence investigation, and move straight to sentencing.
Before accepting her guilty plea, Judge Hall asked Johnson to explain what she did that resulted in her criminal charges. Johnson said that she and her two co-defendants, Hannah and Zachary McCartney, stopped at a general store on April 25, 2020, when they encountered local law enforcement. According to Johnson, the trio had purchased hundreds of fentanyl stamps, which she admitted they had brought back to Upshur County and conspired to sell.
Johnson was subsequently indicted for felony possession with intent to deliver fentanyl and felony conspiracy during the September 2020 term of court. The very favorable plea agreement Johnson entered on April 8 reduced her conviction to a lesser included offense of conspiracy and the other charge was dismissed with prejudice.
Hawkins agreed that the appropriate disposition would be for Johnson to serve her sentence incarcerated and did not ask for alternative sentencing. He then asked the Court to give his client credit for time served in jail, as well as the time she spent on home confinement while on bail. Judge Hall agreed to give Johnson credit for her jail time, but he denied credit for the time served on home confinement.
Johnson was accordingly sentenced to 1-5 years in prison and fined $2,500. She must pay court costs within 180 days from her release, but attorney fees were waived.