Bond was modified Tuesday during the first hearing in the indictment case of a Philippi woman who has accused Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins of sexual misconduct.
Brittany Mae Keene, 18, was indicted in May on one felony count of receiving stolen property and two misdemeanor counts of transferring stolen property. The indictment alleges Keene came into possession of two guitars stolen from Haven of Hope Church on or about March 22 or 23.
In a June 9 article in The Inter-Mountain, Keene claimed she was indicted in retaliation for filing a petition for a domestic violence protection order against Hawkins in May.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Brittany Keene, far right, prepares for her status hearing in Barbour County Circuit Court Tuesday. Also present are, from left, Sgt. Todd Deffet of the Barbour County Sheriff’s Department; Kurt Hall, representing Special Prosecutor Joseph Shaffer; and attorney Paul Harris of Wheeling, representing Keene.
Barbour County Prosecuting Attorney Leckta Poling and Circuit Judge Alan D. Moats then voluntarily recused themselves June 11 from the felony indictment case involving Keene.
Tuesday's hearing was presided over by Senior Status Judge John Henning, who was appointed by the state Supreme Court after Moats recused himself.
Joseph Shaffer of Harrison County has been appointed the special prosecutor in the case. He was represented on Tuesday by Kurt Hall, an assistant prosecutor in Shaffer's office.
Attorney Paul Harris of Wheeling represented Keene in court Tuesday, taking over for Philippi attorney Justina Helmick, who had been appointed by the court.
Hawkins was not present at Tuesday's status hearing, but Poling took a seat in the back of the courtroom to observe the proceedings. Hawkins has denied Keene's accusations.
At the outset of the hearing, Henning set Aug. 16 as the date for a motions hearing in the case, and set the trial date as Oct. 15.
Harris asked that the condition of Keene's bond that requires her to check in with Community Corrections every day, and be randomly drug tested every week, be changed.
He noted that Keene is required to live with her grandparents as another condition of her bond. The grandparents live "in the country" in Moatsville, more than seven miles outside of Philippi, Harris said.
Harris requested that the bond condition be changed to have Keene randomly drug tested one day a week, and not have to check in every day, which would save on the cost of her being transported by relatives.
Hall said a daily check-in with Community Corrections is "a fairly standard condition of bond" in Barbour County, and he felt that to make an exception in this case would be unfair.
Henning asked for the opinion of Matthew Bennett, director of Community Corrections for Barbour County, who said, "Random drug screenings are a vital tool."
Henning noted that Keene admitted in her arraignment before Moats that she had been using drugs before her arrest.
"The first (Community Corrections drug) test was positive, but all subsequent drug screens were negative," Henning said.
The judge ruled to "grant the defendant some relief," saying she now must check in with Community Corrections three days a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and be randomly drug tested one of those days each week.
Henning said they would take the issue up again during the Aug. 16 motions hearing.
Keene only spoke during Tuesday's hearing to say "yes" when Henning asked her to confirm that she wanted to be represented by Harris and not Helmick.
Keene was named in a Barbour County Grand Jury sealed indictment on May 29, 18 days after she filed the petition for a domestic violence protection order against Hawkins. She was arrested the same day as the indictment.
Keene withdrew her petition on June 5.
In a June 12 press release, Poling stated she recused herself from the indictment case to "maintain the integrity of the court system and confidence of the public in these matters due to a perceived appearance of impropriety raised publicly in the Elkins Inter-Mountain by the defendant, Brittany Mae Keene."
Poling also recused herself from a misdemeanor underage consumption charge pending against Keene.
Poling told The Inter-Mountain later in June that she met with Keene in August 2011 about her alleged sexual relationship with Hawkins.
Poling said Keene also alleged sexual relationships with two other law enforcement officers.
Poling also said she contacted the Federal Bureau of Information and the West Virginia State Police to pass along the information from the meeting.
Poling said Keene initially described her alleged sexual relationship with Hawkins as consensual. However, Keene claimed in the domestic violence protection order petition that Hawkins "raped" her in July 2011, when she was 17.
While it is The Inter-Mountain's practice not to name victims of alleged sexual assault, Keene has asked to go on record.
On June 15, after declining for weeks to comment about the situation, Hawkins took to his personal Facebook page to deny Keene's allegations.