|What many would consider an open and shut case in Gilmer County, including confessions, resulted in all charges being dismissed against one of the co-conspirators.|
Jury selection was to begin last week in preparation for the trial of Scott Lee Hacker, 22, of Sand Fork.
Hacker was accused of committing grand larceny for his part in the Glenville Foodland robbery where he was employed at the time.
Instead, defense attorney Steven B. Nanners of Buckhannon offered a
motion to dismiss all charges with no objection offered by Gilmer County Prosecutor Gerald "Jerry" Hough.
Subsequently Circuit Judge Jack Alsop recessed the court and took the attorneys to chambers.
Upon returning to the bench, Alsop made sure the potential jurors knew the
circumstances the court was dealing with.
According to one jury member, Alsop questioned Hough,
saying, "Is it true you said if this trial proceeds your opening statement to the jury would be that you would refuse to present evidence and rest your case?"
Hough indicated yes.
Circuit Clerk, Lane Smith, confirmed Hough said he would present no
evidence in the case.
Both the circuit clerk and other officials involved in the case said
Hacker had signed a confession. "There is a signed confession from
Hacker that he is guilty," Smith said.
Judge Alsop called the situation a "gross miscarriage of justice," said juror James O. Phares, a retired Gilmer County School principal. "It looks like a slap in the face to the grand jury."
Hacker was indicted along with three co-conspirators in the Glenville Foodland robbery October 15, 2004.
The other three are Travis Tyrone Garvin, Alvoid Wilson Mays,
and Brittney Randolph, who was also employed at Foodland at the time.
All the defendants were facing felony-level charges.
Randolph was romantically involved with Garvin, who was the one who
actually entered the store with a gun. Randolph and Hacker had left the business unlocked and delayed making a deposit into the store's safe.
Although they anticipated netting about $10,000 for their efforts, the take was actually $13,339.
Mays, a former pro football player, and affiliated with West Virginia University, waited outside as the get-away driver.
A witness spotted Garvin exiting Foodland that night, thought something looked suspicious and used his cell phone to notify police.
Mays and Garvin were later apprehended after police gave chase and the pair wrecked the get-away vehicle.
Hacker did agree to cooperate with the prosecution, but he was never
required to testify as his co-defendants entered guilty pleas prior to trial.
Officials said Hacker did provide some useful information, but that it was not critical to the overall investigation.
Although Nanners' motion to dismiss indicates the defense believed
Hacker's cooperation was critical in obtaining a guilty plea from Brittany Randolph, others familiar with the case disputed that assertion.
Randolph's cell phone records tied her to Garvin, and witnesses in the case said she introduced him as her boyfriend on several different occasions.
The court record shows no evidence a plea agreement, nor was he offered immunity.
Karen Elkin, assistant Gilmer County Circuit Clerk, said Judge Alsop
ruled Hacker's confession was admissible if the case had gone to trial.
In Lewis County Circuit Clerk John Hinesman, commenting on the process, said "I've never heard of anything like that," he said. "It sounds strange."
Juror Kathy McCune may have put it best when she said, "Something went extremely wrong with this case."
Currently, Brittney Randolph, the apparent mastermind of the robbery, is free on bond awaiting sentencing for her guilty plea to a grand larceny charge.
Mays is being held at the Central Regional Jail, awaiting sentencing
September 12 for his conviction at trial of grand larceny. An appeal is expected in his case.
Garvin is being held at the regional jail and will be sentenced with
Randolph October 11.