Mall break-in suspects sentenced

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Two men indicted on burglary charges in connection with a break-in at the Ohio Valley Mall in November pleaded into the adult Drug Court program Monday in Belmont County Common Pleas Court.

Aaron Shippy, 20, of 71545 Gas Station Shippy Road, St. Clairsville, and Joseph M. Connell, 18, of 71551 Gas Station Shippy Road, St. Clairsville, were arrested following the Nov. 9 incident that took place at the mall near the old Steve & Barry’s store. Officials said the men, who court officials said were cousins, damaged two skylights while attempted to break into the mall through the roof.

The prosecution allowed the two to enter guilty pleas to fourth-degree felony burglary charges Monday and allow them to enter into the Drug Court program. Court officials have said defendants can participate in the Drug Court program if the charges they faced stemmed from an apparent drug or alcohol problem.

If the defendants successfully complete the program, the criminal cases against them will be dismissed. If they do not complete the program, each could be sentenced to serve 18 months behind bars.

Defendants in several other cases appeared before Belmont County Common Pleas Court Judge Jennifer L. Sargus Monday for criminal hearings.

James Kennison, of 57651 Moores Run Road, Bellaire, was sentenced to serve six months at the East Ohio Corrections Center in Wintersville for a felony driving under the influence conviction. Kennison was arrested in July for DUI on Ohio 149. Police said he had five prior DUI convictions, but the defense noted Monday that he his last conviction occurred in 1999 and that otherwise he had been a law abiding citizen.

In addition to the EOCC sentence, Kennison will be on probation for three years. Sargus suspended his driver’s license for 10 years.

Debbie Sue Kinney, 37, of 188 Third Ave, Bellaire, was handed a six-month suspended sentence and placed on two years of probation for selling a controlled substance. Defense attorney Frank Pierce indicated his client was selling her child’s prescription drug called Vyvanse for $2 per pill to make ends meet. He noted that the child’s school is now administering the medication.

Kinney sold the drug to a confidential informant during controlled buys, court officials said. She was later indicted on two counts of drug trafficking.

A Children Services evaluation was ordered in the case.

David M. St. John, 26, of 52753 Main St., Beallsville, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle. He was originally indicted on having weapons under a disability and one count each of theft and attempted theft.

Reports stated that Barnesville police arrested St. John on Dec. 25, 2007 on a warrant and discovered a gun in the vehicle. The theft charges stemmed from alleged vehicle thefts.

St. John could face up to 42 months in prison and fines of up to $10,000. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered and a sentencing hearing will be held in March.

Richard Lollathin, 34, of 70998 Barries Drive, Martins Ferry, pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer and a fifth-degree felony count of drug possession.

Lollathin reportedly had Oxycodone in his possession after he fled from police on a motorcycle in August.

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