BUCKHANNON – A Buckhannon woman who has been arrested for second-degree murder in Randolph County related to a shooting that took place in November 2018 in the Crystal Springs area was recently sentenced on an unrelated drug charge stemming from 2017 in Upshur County Circuit Court.
On Tuesday, June 5, 26th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Kurt Hall sentenced Vanessa Logan, 32, of Buckhannon and Oakland, Md., to not less than one nor more than five years in the penitentiary on one felony count of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, methamphetamine.
According to previous My Buckhannon articles and court records, Logan pleaded guilty to the charge during a plea hearing that took place Aug. 19, 2018, but then she did not appear at her initial sentencing hearing, according to the judge and Upshur County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kelley Cunningham.
Logan was apprehended in December 2018 by the U.S. Marshal’s Service in Morgantown after fleeing following the Randolph County shooting and is currently being held in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $150,000 cash-only bond.
At a rescheduled sentencing hearing in Upshur County Circuit Court on April 29, 2019, Logan’s attorney, Dennis Willett, told Hall his client had “an issue” with the way in which the plea agreement was executed and had requested that Willett review an audio CD of the Aug. 19, 2018 plea hearing. Hall granted a continuance until last Tuesday, June 5.
At the most recent hearing, Logan appeared with Willett, while Cunningham represented the state.
Hall noted he had granted a continuance at the April 29 hearing at Willett’s request due to an issue that had arisen. He said Logan had absconded during the time the original sentencing date was set, and a capias was issued. The judge also noted the court was not in possession of any motion to set aside the guilty plea and asked if Willett and Cunningham were ready to proceed with sentencing.
“I listened to the tape of the plea hearing to hear any of the issues my client brought to my attention,” Willett said. “I didn’t detect anything. We are ready for sentencing.”
Cunningham said the state had read the original plea agreement, and at the time of its issue, the state had recommended probation. However, circumstances had changed.
“It would seem under the circumstances now, with her not appearing for the sentencing and having to be picked up on a capias, it would seem appropriate to have a sentence of time in the penitentiary,” she said.
Willett said he was able to speak with Logan’s attorney, Harry A. Smith III, who represents her in the Randolph County shooting case. He said to date, Logan has not been indicted on those charges.
(During a December 2018 hearing in Randolph County Magistrate Court, the charge against Logan in the shooting case was downgraded from first-degree murder to second-degree murder at the recommendation of Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker.)
“She is being held on a fairly substantial bond,” Willett said. “We are going to ask the court to sentence her pursuant to the plea agreement with an alternative sentence due to the circumstances.”
Hall asked Logan if she wanted to speak on her own behalf, but she chose not to do so.
“Miss Logan, at the time of your original plea, there was a recommendation for probation and attendance in our drug court,” Hall said. “This other matter (in Randolph County) and the capias intervened, and the court is going to deny the original recommendation. It doesn’t make sense to put you on probation while you are incarcerated. We don’t do that.”
Hall sentenced Logan to not less than one year nor more than five years in the penitentiary on the felony charge of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, methamphetamine. He said she would get credit for time served.
“The court will require you to pay back the $250 for your court-appointed attorney fees in this case,” Hall said. “You will have one year to repay these fees from your release.”
Cunningham asked that the second count of delivery of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, a felony, from an indictment handed down in 2017 be dismissed. Hall ordered that charge be dismissed with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought back up again.
Logan was remanded back to jail and the custody of the Department of Corrections. The charge against Logan in Randolph County is related to the fatal shooting of Spencer Zoller, 49, which occurred Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at a residence on Gum Road in the Crystal Springs area of Randolph County.