CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A special magistrate signed off Tuesday on a new pretrial deal involving elected Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants.
Plants is charged with two domestic-related misdemeanor counts. The new deal, called a pretrial monitoring program, would have the charges dismissed if Plants completes a Batterers Intervention Prevention Program in Putnam County. The program would last for 32 weeks.
Plants is charged with allegedly violating a domestic protection order granted to his ex-wife and with domestic battery in connection with disciplining one of his sons with a belt. His office hasn’t been able to prosecute similar cases while the charges against Plants remain. A special prosecutor is being paid by the county.
Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said Tuesday the new deal would be reviewed by commissioners at Thursday’s meeting. He said a monitoring program that would last between 22 and 32 weeks could cost the county between $250,000 and $300,000 for the special prosecutor.
The county commission continues to finance a special prosecutor to handle most domestic violence cases in Kanawha County. Don Morris is working with four other prosecutors who already are paid through the prosecutor’s office. Morris is paid $200 an hour. Plants previously said he had no intention of having the county pay for a special prosecutor for an entire year. He said Tuesday the charges will be dismissed and he intends to remain as prosecutor.
The parties in the criminal cases initially agreed to a pretrial diversion program but that was later learned to be illegal in most domestic-related cases. Special Magistrate Michael Flanigan told Plants’ attorney Jim Cagle Tuesday he should have never signed off on the original deal.
“I take full responsibility for the diversion agreement. That’s my fault,” the magistrate said.
But Cagle said there was enough blame to go around.
“Actually, it was the fault of all of us. I will take my responsibility for that too. You don’t’ have to take it all,” Cagle said.
Special Prosecutor Sid Bell file the motion to review the original agreement.
Plants will have to report to the Putnam County Day Report Center as part of the intervention program.
The first of several compliance hearings is scheduled for Aug. 27 in Flanigan’s courtroom in Princeton.