The case involves Ryan Hubbs, of Ohio, who was accused of committing a robbery in Weston on October 13, 2016 by carjacking a woman at a CVS Pharmacy, then driving the vehicle to Marion County, before colliding with a vehicle at the entrance to the Middletown Mall in White Hall. Two people, David Glasscock, 64, and Sandra Glasscock, 65, were killed in the collision.
On October 30, 2017, Hubbs pleaded guilty to second degree robbery in Lewis County for the carjacking, according to court documents. A judge sentenced him on November 7, 2017.
In April 2018, Marion County Circuit Judge Patrick Wilson dismissed an indictment against Hubbs, stating that it would constitute double jeopardy following Hubbs’ guilty plea in Lewis County. At that time, Judge Wilson said the murder indictment in Marion County was entirely appropriate at the time, but once Hubbs entered a guilty plea to robbery, prosecution for the murder charges became indefensible.
According to a Memorandum Decision, the State of West Virginia, via Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Freeman, appealed the April 2018 order that granted Hubbs’ motion to dismiss his indictments in Marion County of two counts of first degree murder.
Freeman argues that the circuit court erred by granting the motion to dismiss and finding that the prohibition against double jeopardy precluded Marion County’s prosecution of Hubbs for two counts of first degree murder, subsequent to Hubbs pleading guilty to robbery in Lewis County, according to court documents.
Hubbs counters that the Marion County indictments are barred by the principles of double jeopardy, according to court documents.
In the Memorandum Decision, the court found that the prosecution’s appeal is not appropriate for review on direct appeal. According to court documents, West Virginia Code § 58-5-30 states that an appeal to the Supreme Court in a criminal case is permissible when “an indictment is held bad or insufficient by the judgment of a circuit court.” Upon consideration of this statute, the Supreme Court determined that “unless a circuit court has dismissed an indictment because it was either bad or insufficient, the State has no right to a direct appeal.”
The Supreme Court did state that the prosecution could have sought a writ of prohibition, arguing that Marion County Circuit Court exceeded or acted outside of its jurisdiction in dismissing the murder indictment against Hubbs. “Where the State claims that the trial court abused its legitimate powers, the State must demonstrate that the court’s action was so flagrant that it was deprived of its right to prosecute the case or deprived of a valid conviction.”
The court concluded in stating, “we find that…the State has no right to a direct appeal of the circuit court’s decision pursuant to West Virginia Code § 58-5-30. Moreover, we conclude that the State is not entitled to relief herein by way of a writ of prohibition because the State did not seek this more appropriate route to challenge the indictment’s dismissal.”
In a footnote, the court addressed the underlying issue of a defendant facing multiple charges in different counties by stating, “While we decline to review this matter on the merits for the reasons stated herein, we encourage prosecutors to communicate with prosecutors of other counties to coordinate local prosecutorial efforts in circumstances such as the present matter ‘to best protect the interests of the citizens of [West Virginia] and to insure that an accused’s right to fundamental fairness within the judicial system . . . not [be] abused.’”