FAIRMONT – The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Thursday refused to review a Marion County case in which a Farmington couple was killed in a 2016 traffic accident by a man who was driving a stolen vehicle.
David and Sandra Glasscock, died on Oct. 13, 2016 at the scene of a crash in front of the Middletown Mall in White Hall. Their vehicle was struck by a vehicle that was stolen earlier that day in Taylor County by Ashley Ryan Hubbs of Ohio.
About two hours earlier that day, Hubbs carjacked a woman named Sara Crum in Weston and fled north through Harrison County until he crashed in White Hall.
On Oct. 30 2017, Hubbs pled guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree robbery in Taylor County and later received a 10-to-18-year sentence for stealing Crum’s car and threatening her with a 9-millimeter handgun.
On April 20, 2018, Marion County Circuit Court Judge Patrick N. Wilson threw out Hubbs’ local indictment for two counts of felony murder on the grounds that the indictment would place Hubbs in double jeopardy. In September thos year, the state went before the high court to seek a clarification in state law.
Because Lewis County prosecutors moved quicker than Marion County prosecutors, the lower court ruled that double jeopardy would be in play if the Marion County case went forward.
Fairmont Attorney Matthew Delligatti, who represented Hubbs, said Thursday’s ruling means the case “is done.”
“Basically, the court didn’t reach the substance of Judge Wilson’s granting the motion to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds because the court found the state had not properly filed the appeal under those rules of appellate procedure. It should have been apparently filed as a writ of prohibition rather than a direct appeal. Basically, they dismissed the appeal on a procedural grounds.”
When if the state could take any other appeal action, he said, “it’s done.”
He added that he thinks the Supreme Court would have affirmed the motion to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds no matter what, had it gone beyond the procedural issue.
Delligatti said Thursday he thought the legally correct decision was made, but at the same time, he and his co-counsel feel horribly for the family that lost their loved ones.
Meanwhile, when he took the podium in September to argue on behalf of Hubbs, Delligatti said that neither Lewis nor Marion County filed both charges – felony murder and robbery – but state law would have allowed respective prosecutors to do so.
“I will say that really, it was an issue of communication in this matter. I know ...I’ve had a great relationship with Mr. [Jeff] Freeman, the prosecuting attorney in Marion County and I know that he reached out on multiple occasions trying to discuss this matter with Lewis County because we had difficulty getting some of the records involved in this case,” Delligatti said, in September.
Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Freeman said Thursday he could not comment on the high court’s memorandum decision because he has not had a chance to review the document.
While he concurred with his colleagues, Justice Tim Armstead wrote a separate memorandum that offered another possibility on how the Hubbs case could have been resolved.
He cited a case from Jackson County, Georgia in which a man was fleeing from sheriff’s deputies, drove into the adjacent Hall County and crashed into another vehicle and killed a passenger.
“The Defendant was convicted of the robbery in Jackson County then he was later convicted by a jury in Hall County for felony murder. The Supreme Court of Georgia acknowledged that it had previously held that a criminal defendant could not be convicted both of the underlying felony and of felony murder if there was a single victim. However, [the court] found that this rule did not apply where there are separate victims.”
Armstead went on to write that he does not believe this is the end of this type of case.
“I do not believe that this memorandum decision should be read as closing the door under proper circumstances on a conviction for both the underlying felony, in which the driver of the stolen vehicle was the victim, and felony murder resulting from the collision, in which the victims were the occupants of the vehicle which Mr. Hubbs had not stolen, were tragically killed,” he wrote. “Because the memorandum decision disposes of this matter on other grounds and does not decide this issue, I concur in its conclusion.”