Sentencings handed down in common pleas court

ST, CLAIRSVILLE – Belmont County Common Pleas Court heard a number of cases Friday under Judge John M. Solovan II.

Brandon Robert Hehle, 24, Bridgeport, was sentenced after being found guilty of two counts of breaking and entering, a felony of the fifth degree. At sentencing, Hehle expressed remorse for his action and sought to obtain treatment for his drug problems.

Solovan noted Hehle’s prior criminal record for theft, obstruction of justice, robbery, forgery, possession of drug paraphernalia, and operating a vehicle without a license.

He was sentenced to five years community control sanctions and financial sanctions. He was sentenced to four months in Belmont County Jail with 40 days credited, then six months at Eastern Ohio Corrections Center’s intensive drug and alcohol program. He will have the opportunity to obtain a GED. Upon release, he will face 12 months supervised probation at $50 per month, then 38 months probation at $10 per month. He will undergo drug and alcohol counseling. He is to have no contact with his co-defendants, victims or other felons. He will complete 80 hours community service and pay restitution of $800.

“This is your last opportunity if you really want to help yourself,” he said, adding that Hehle’s first violation of community controls will result in immediate imprisonment.

Robert Joseph Spera, 27, 204 East High St., Flushing, pleaded to a bill of information on one count of breaking and entering, a felony of the fifth degree. He waived the indictment and pleaded guilty. Sentencing was set for Aug. 5. An EOCC evaluation was ordered.

Fawna Marie Brown, 1500 North Eighth St., Martins Ferry, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine. The defense requested she be allowed to enter the year-long Mary and Martha’s House program. The house counselor will provide a full report to the state and judge. An EOCC evaluation will also take place. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 5.

Jennifer Lynn Johnson, 35, 511 School St., Martins Ferry, was in court for the revocation of her recognizance. She was indicted in West Virginia due to the presence of weapons in her residence. She claimed the weapon was not hers but belonged to the individual she was staying with. She had been charged with possession of drugs, a felony of the fifth degree. The state noted that Johnson was also involved in a federal conspiracy case involving 17-18 people.

Her release was authorized on the condition of bond price imposed. A trial date was set for Sept. 15 with Sept. 2 as plea agreement deadline.

Julius Duvall Thompson, 27, 14030 Terrace Road, Cleveland, was in court on a first stage probation revocation hearing. He was convicted and sentenced for possession of cocaine in September of 2010. He allegedly violated his five-year community control sanctions by failing to notify his probation officer of his location, of being in West Virginia. Defense admitted to the allegations but asked Solovan to consider no criminal allegations have been made. He said he had difficulty making arrangements with the probation officer. Also, that Thompson was the victim of a robbery and shooting, and his injury made contact difficult.

He will serve an added 120 days in Belmont County Jail, 11 days credited.

Michael Harry Burkholder, 57299 Shephards Hill Road, Jacobsburg, was sentenced for violating his probation. In 2005 he was convicted of forgery and uttering of a forged check, felony of the fifth degree. He failed to notify his probation officer of a change of address and place of employment. He has also failed to pay court costs totaling $1,017.50

“I have nobody to blame by myself,” he said. “I put myself in this predicament.”

He was sentenced to 272 days in Belmont County Jail, 212 credited.

David J. Heddleson, 52, saw the revocation of his probation. In 2008 he was convicted of driving under the influence and sentence to four years. He received judicial release in 2010 and five years community based controls. Heddleson apparently caused a witness to believe he intended them harm and two occasions. The first is contested but the second occurred at Belmont County Jail and the phone conversation was recorded.

Heddleson was sentenced to four years in the penitentiary.

Richard Thomas Kyle, 25, 201 Church St., Bethesda, pleaded to a bill of information and waived his indictment. He pleaded guilty of misuse of credit card in late April and early May for the purpose of purchasing drugs. He was placed in the drug court program. Restitution is close to $950. Kyle turned himself in. He has been evaluated by the Crossroads program.

Abby Jo Ruggiero 18, 38200 Ohio Ave., Shadyside, pleaded to a bill of information and waived indictment. She pleaded guilty to one count theft of drugs, a felony of the fourth degree, and was placed in the drug court program.

Zachary Allen Tottka, 21, 4339 Franklin St., Bellaire, appeared on a second stage probation revocation hearing. In 2010 he was sentenced to 24 months for breaking and entering and theft. After six months he was given judicial release. He has since tested positive four times for marijuana. The state recommended he be referred to EOCC or the New Outlook program, whichever has a shorter waiting list. He will serve 90 days in Belmont County Jail. After completing the program, he will be subject to 12 months intensive supervised probation.

Jerry Lewis Crothers, 46, 106 West Main St., Freeport, appeared for a first stage probation revocation hearing.

In 2008 he was sentenced for burglary and placed on community control sanctions for five years to end 2014.

He apparently failed to report to his probation officer. On May 20 he was arrested for disorderly conducted and consuming alcohol. Also, $1,734 of his court costs remains unpaid.

Crothers asked Solovan to consider that he has a disability rendering him unemployable, also resulting in severe pain and a need for medications. He said he has also been left effectively homeless since he can no longer stay with family. He apologized for his poor decision to consume alcohol but insisted he drank only a little.

Solovan sentenced Crothers to 60 days in Belmont County Jail, followed by six months in EOCC. He noted Crothers’ prior criminal history, including causing the death of another in an automobile accident due to his alcoholism. He advised Crothers to take this final opportunity to help himself.

James Lee Givens, 63, 305 Orchid Lane, St Clairsville, appeared on a status conference. He is charged with two counts pandering sexually oriented materials, a felony of the second degree. He will proceed to trial Aug. 30.

A trial date of Sept. 13 with a plea agreement deadline of Sept. 2 was set for Curtis Charles Harris, 21, 210 Main Street, Cadiz. He is accused of one count of engaging in sexual contact with a minor younger than 16, a felony of the second degree.

DeFrank can be reached at