An expected sexual assault trial has been delayed as the Greenbrier County Circuit Court faces the highest COVID-19 county active case rate yet.
Todd Clay Young II of Daniels, then 20, was indicted in October 2020 on sexual assault in the third degree and sexual assault in the second degree. Both indictments stem from alleged incidents concerning “a female child” less than “16 years of age” and a person being “incapable of consent due to being physically helpless,” between May 14, 2020, and May 15, 2020.
During the Monday, January 10, hearing, the question of speed trial rights took center stage. In Greenbrier County, cases are expected to be tried within three terms of court, unless a speed trial right waiver is approved for each term skipped by the defendant.
Young’s trial was previously set on January 19. During the scheduled “final pre-trial meeting” on Monday, January 10, Greenbrier County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dent explained “what we’ll need to discuss is the fact that this morning, Greenbrier County remains very high in the red zone with regard to the US. Institute of Health COVID risk map.”
As a result, the trial could not take place next week and would need to be pushed to the next term of court. Defense Attorney Martha Fleshman, near the beginning of the hearing, noted Young did not wish to waive his speedy trial rights.
“We do have a situation here where the court, for cause, would be waiving all three terms beyond the term in which he was indicted,” Dent said. “If I waive it for cause, [the trial] would need to be prioritized for the next term. … The February term was waived for cause into June, the June for cause into October, and now we’re about to waive for cause out of October into February. I believe this is the third term.”
Greenbrier County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via supported the trial delay.
“There’s no way we’re going to be anywhere near the orange zone in a week, that’s for certain,” said Via. “Likely, it’ll be higher a week from now than it is now, I imagine.”
However, his opinion does come with a process question that, if answered differently than expected, could result in the dismissal of the case.
“Here’s my concern,” said Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via. “This circuit has a very public health conscious rule on this. I don’t think the Supreme Court would set aside cause findings for the COVID public health concerns, but it concerns me a little bit that they haven’t come right out and said that either. I can’t run the risk of getting a motion the first week of February asking that the case be dismissed.”
Via’s concern, however, would ultimately wait for another case to test the system.
After returning from a recess for an attorney/client conference, Fleshman stated “he will waive this term of court, recognizing the issues that we discussed earlier. We do not want to be pressed to go to trial suddenly next Wednesday. Even though it’s been scheduled, that was not something that we had anticipated doing. It’s not in my client’s interest at this point for us to go to trial.”
After questioning from Dent, Young agreed to waive his speedy trial rights for the current term of court.
The case is now expected to go to trial between the first Tuesday of February and the first Tuesday of June, the upcoming term of court. A final pre-trial hearing was set for early April. Young is currently on bond.