EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSW.Va. Supreme Court To Reconsider Child Highway Death Case
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Sep. 4, 2013 7:14 PM EDT
Updated: Sep. 4, 2013 10:34 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The highest court in the state is reconsidering the case of a man convicted of child neglect causing the death of a young boy hit and killed on the interstate.
Ethan Chic-Colbert is serving a six to 30-year sentence, but now he says he was illegally sentenced and he should be acquitted of child neglect charges.
"The prosecutors in this case messed up this case. They messed up the indictment. They indicted him under the wrong statute," Chic-Colbert's attorney Woody Hill said during a hearing on Wednesday.
Hill said a misworded indictment led to an improper sentence by Judge Duke Bloom. Instead of a three to 15 years sentence for Jahlil's death, they believe it should have been one to three years.
"This is not something as simple as a typo. There's much more to it than that," Hill said before the court.
"If anything, this was a minor technical violation that is no way prejudices the defense of this case at all," Senior Assistant Attorney General Scott Johnson said .
The state stands by their case, saying everyone was well aware of the charges being pursued against Chic-Colbert.
"We tried a solid, strong case. We tried a clean case," Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Tera Salango said.
On top of those arguments, Chic-Colbert's attorneys said two of three child neglect charges should be thrown out because two of the boys in the car the night Jahlil Clements, 11, was hit and killed trying to get help for his mom on the interstate as she was being beaten by Chic-Colbert, were mere strangers to him. They said he never accepted responsibility for the boys, who were friends of Jahlil's.
"There is absolutely no evidence anywhere in the whole record that he voluntarily accepted a supervisory role," Hill said.
"It's just like reliving the whole case all over again," Clement's grandmother Treva Woodson said.
"I have forgiven Ethan but I will never forget. I just want this all to be over with," she said.
"There is no constitutional problem in this case whatsoever, the defendant was properly indicted and properly convicted on that charge," Johnson said.
Justices made no decision on Wednesday, but they will in the near future.
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