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A former Capital High School student accused of raping a 15-year-old girl inside the school earlier this year was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey approved a motion filed by the 17-year-old boy's attorney to allow him to back out of the plea deal. Bailey says when King entered the agreement, he may not have known he would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. The boy pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse last month as part of a deal for giving up his juvenile status to be tried as an adult. The boy was arrested in January after officials say he pulled the girl to the ground before dragging her underneath a stairwell at the school.. He faces a charge for second-degree sexual assault.
Humane officers have seized nearly two dozen cats from the home of a Charleston woman who operated a rescue effort. Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association executive director Chelsea Staley says all of the cats are in poor health. Staley says humane officers didn't see any food, water or fresh litter when they went to Amanda Woods' home, and says the home doesn't have electricity or running water. Twenty-two cats were seized. Staley says Woods operated the rescue group Karen and Friends at her home.
You'll have an opportunity next week to weigh in on the state's wildlife action plan. The Division of Natural Resources has scheduled three meetings on the plan, which identifies management strategies for wildlife populations, habitat conditions and partnerships with governmental and non-governmental organizations. Two meetings to gather public comment are set for Monday night. One will be at the Division of Natural Resources headquarters in South Charleston, others are set for Morgantown and Martinsburg.
Motorists will see more police patrolling U.S. 60 in Greenbrier and Fayette counties this month. The Register-Herald reports that White Sulphur Springs, Lewisburg and Rainelle police, along with the Greenbrier and Fayette sheriff's departments, will increase patrols and checkpoints on U.S. 60 beginning June 12. The enforcement effort will run through June 20. Regional highway safety coordinator and Beckley police Lt. Paul Blume says the goal is to improve safety and reduce the number of wrecks on U.S. 60.
Members of the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority got their first peek Wed at the redesign plan of Slack Plaza. Project plans presented by Dave Gilmore of GAI consultants. The redesign will create a green island right in the center of the city and includes a circular lawn and expanded walkway for a portable ice skating rink, fairs, tents for festivals and concerts in the park.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has ordered $38.9 million in spending cuts to balance the state budget. Tomblin signed the executive order Tuesday. Coupled with other moves, it would close an estimated $70 million revenue gap this fiscal year. The other funding includes $12.6 million in unappropriated revenue, $11 million from personal income tax reserves and $7.5 million in revenues transferred during the regular legislative session. Now various agencies are being instructed to curb spending before the close of the current fiscal year on June 30. Robert Kiss, secretary of the Department of Revenue, says weaker-than-expected tax collections have produced some revenue challenges. But he says the $70 million shortfall is small in the context of a $4.25 billion budget.
A public meeting is coming up this month to learn more about improvement projects that American Electric Power has planned in Charleston. The Charleston Gazette says AEP will invest $80 to $100 million in the city’s electric infrastructure starting in 2017. That includes rebuilding at least 5 miles of transmission line and two substations, along with the construction of new lines and a substation in the downtown area. The public meeting is set for June 23 from 5 - 8 p.m. at Horace Mann Middle School in Kanawha City.
A Kanawha County man has been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison in the killing of his daughter. Seventy-year-old Roy Roger Pittman also received up to three years in prison in the wounding of his son. Police say Pittman fatally shot 15-year-old Brittany Pittman and wounded 18-year-old Matthew Pittman with a shotgun on May 24, 2013, and then shot himself in the face when confronted by deputies. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Brittany Pittman's death and to second-degree attempted murder in Matthew Pittman's wounding.
A man has received the maximum sentence for a fatal beating near Magic Island in Charleston. 27-year-old John Michael Thurmond pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Thurmond is one of three people who were charged in the death of 51-year-old Martin Snodgrass. Snodgrass' body was found under a highway bridge after he went to pick up aluminum cans in July 2014. Twenty-year-old Anthony M. Harriman received a 40-year sentence in May after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Twenty-two-year-old Erica Lynn Cogar pleaded guilty in May to accessory after the fact to murder and received a five-year sentence. Authorities say all three defendants were homeless.
State officials say new federal guidelines will allow more West Virginians to enroll in a nutrition program. The DHHR says an additional 7,500 West Virginians could be eligible for benefits from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children because of new income eligibility guidelines. A family of four earning $44,863 would qualify for benefits. The program provides food, nutrition and breastfeeding education, and access to maternal, prenatal and pediatric health care services. It currently serves nearly 43,000 West Virginians.