Sparks sentenced on heroin charges

MARIETTA – A Marietta man who has already spent time in prison in Ohio and West Virginia was sentenced Monday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to 15 more months in prison for selling heroin.

Kyle L. Sparks, 24, of 830 Ridge St., Marietta, was sentenced on two fifth-degree and one fourth-degree felony counts of trafficking in drugs for a trio of heroin deals that took place with a confidential informant in January.

The first drug deal, on Jan. 18, did not involve an exchange of cash, but was apparently an attempt to settle an old debt, explained Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.

Sparks had originally been indicted on two fourth-degree and one third-degree felony counts of drug trafficking because the sales had occurred within 1,000 feet of Marietta Middle School, another elevating factor. However, that specification was dropped as part of the plea agreement, said Schneider.

Sparks was ultimately arrested Jan. 23 after a search warrant was executed at his home. A small quantity of heroin was found hidden in a heating duct resulting in a fifth-degree felony count of drug possession, which was also later dropped as part of the plea.

Sparks made a brief apologetic statement to the court prior to sentencing.

“I messed up. I made a mistake. It won’t happen again,” he said.

Sparks previously spent a year in prison in West Virginia on a charge of conspiracy to commit breaking and entering and a year in prison in Ohio on a drug trafficking charge, said Schneider. He was on parole when arrested in January.

Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth sentenced Sparks according to an agreed disposition. Sparks was ordered to serve 11 months in prison on each of the fifth-degree felony charges and 15 months in prison on the fourth-degree felony charge, all to run concurrently.

He was also ordered to pay $700 restitution to the Major Crimes Task Force, part of which was to be taken from money found on Sparks’ person during the search of his home, said Schneider.

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In other business, a Parkersburg woman accused of having bath salts during a traffic stop in Marietta was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail despite a last minute statement rescinding her previous guilty plea.

Megan W. Skidmore, 25, of 2623 14th Ave., Parkersburg, pleaded guilty July 24 to possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony. But Monday she told Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth that she had been rushed into the plea and had not fully understood its implications.

“Why am I being hit with two plea agreements for possession when it should have just been drug paraphernalia?” asked Skidmore.

Skidmore and another West Virginia woman, 25-year-old Ashley D. True, were arrested as a result of a traffic stop in Marietta.

Skidmore, True and a male left a Pike Street motel room that had been under surveillance by the Major Crimes Task Force because of reports of suspicious activity there. The Marietta Police Department stopped the vehicle for a traffic violation and a drug-sniffing K-9 indicated the presence of drugs in the vehicle.

Officers found white residue in a glass funnel belonging to Skidmore and white powder in a prescription bottle belonging to True.

Skidmore argued that she should have only ever been charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

“If I could enter a change of plea… I know I pled guilty, and I misunderstood everything. I just wish for an (appeal),” she said.

Burnworth denied her request to enter a change of plea.

Skidmore was sentenced according to an agreed disposition. She received 32 days in the Washington County Jail with credit for two days served and was ordered to spend a year on supervised community control.

The sentence, said Burnworth, was the equivalent of a misdemeanor sentence anyway.

“The practical reality is despite the fact that you have a felony conviction, you’re serving a misdemeanor sentence. A little over a year ago, before the new sentencing regulations, there was a likelihood that you would have been sent straight to prison on this charge,” he said.

Skidmore faced a maximum 12 months on the fifth-degree felony. However, the sentencing regulations to which Burnworth referred greatly limited judges’ ability to sentence fourth- and fifth-degree felony offenders to prison.