Prosecutors seek life for drug conviction
HUNTINGTON — After a murder suspect was convicted Tuesday of possessing heroin with the intent to deliver, Cabell County prosecutors filed paperwork to have him serve life imprisonment under West Virginia’s three-strike rule.
Joshua Dwayne Plante, 27, of Huntington, who is charged with murder in the June 20, 2016, shooting death of Morrell Deshawn Paschell, 21, of Huntington, was convicted of possession with intent to deliver Tuesday after hours of deliberation by a jury.
The jury asked Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell several questions throughout a 4-hour-long deliberation before reaching the decision.
The charge of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance came after he was found to be in possession of 3 grams of heroin when he was arrested outside of his Olive Street home the day Paschell was found.
After he was found to possess drugs, police got a warrant to search his home, which was rented by his sister, Shaina Renae Plante, who also was charged.
Farrell previously ruled the drug charge must be tried separately from the murder allegations because they were separate, unrelated charges, and not to connect Shaina Plante to the killing. She is expected to enter a plea Thursday, Aug. 9.
Assistant prosecutor Joe Fincham, who was assisted by Ryan Hamady, said Tuesday because of Plante’s criminal history, which includes years spent in federal prison for drug and weapons charges, they had filed a recidivism charge against him, which would call for a life sentence. Recidivism involves the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend.
Defense attorney Courtenay Craig doesn’t deny his client had heroin on him upon his arrest, but said the drug was for personal use due to a drug dependency issue. There was also no evidence on Plante’s phone that he had been contacted by someone who wanted to purchase the drug, he said.
Prosecutors said Plante was found with no drug paraphernalia on him that would indicate he was a user, and the amount he had could provide 30 doses of heroin.
Inside the Olive Street home, police found several firearms, ammunition, drugs, scales and baggies, all which prosecutors said were signs of drug distribution.
Craig said while the address was listed as Planters address, it was only for the purposes of supervision due to another criminal case. Plante actually jumped around among the homes of several women, he said.
His possessions were still boxed up in the Olive Street home, showing he did not live there and had little to no knowledge of what was going on inside the home. The location where most of the items Fincham had referred to were found inside a woman’s home, he said.
Plante still faces a trial in the shooting death of Paschell, who was found dead from a gunshot wound in his Guyandotte home June 20, 2016.
Testimony from Huntington police Detective Dakota Dishman after the shooting revealed the defendant and victim allegedly had had arguments over a woman both had dated briefly. Dishman said a unique pair of shoes, video surveillance from two residences and recovered guns would affirm statements from the woman.
Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.