Man accused of murder begins drug charge trial
HUNTINGTON - A trial for the Huntington man charged in a 2016 shooting death in Guyandotte started Monday, but only for a drug charge alleging he possessed heroin with the intent to deliver during his arrest after the shooting.
Joshua Dwayne Plante, 27, of Huntington, is charged with murder in the June 20, 2016, shooting death of Morrell Deshawn Paschell, 21, of Huntington. Plante, who appeared in court via wheelchair Monday, also was charged with possession with intent to deliver heroin after police found him to be in possession of three grams of heroin when he was arrested along Olive Street the day Paschell was found.
Due to his sister, Shaina Renae Plante, being named in the indictment with him, Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell previously ruled the drug charge must be tried separately from the murder allegation. Shaina Plante is set to plea in Farrell’s courtroom Tuesday, according to his court docket.
Assistant prosecutor Joe Fincham said Plante was arrested outside of his Olive Street home and found to possess 3 grams of heroin, which amounts to about 30 doses. Police obtained a search warrant for the house and found inside found several firearms, ammunition, drugs, scales, and baggies inside, all which he said were signs of drug distribution.
“The items recovered from the house shows this is a man engaged in the business of drug dealing,” he said. “The heroin he had on him, if not for the work of the Huntington Police Department, would have made its way into our community.”
Defense attorney Courtenay Craig admitted his client possessed the drug, but not with intent to deliver.
“My client developed a heroin problem, to which he snorts,” he said. “I have to disagree with the fact that three grams constitutes 30 doses of heroin, because if you snort heroin, it’s different than if you shoot. A gram of heroin generally goes for about $150 a gram. It’s not unusual for a user to go through a half-a-gram a day, or even a gram a day.”
As far as what was found inside the home, Craig said his client had only been in Huntington for 60 days and was living with his sister. His things were boxed inside the home and the bedroom where most of the drugs and paraphernalia were found was a woman’s room, based on clothing and purses found inside.
Craig said Plante stayed at several different homes other than the Olive Street location and has little idea as to what was occurring inside the home.
Plante still faces a trial in the shooting death of Paschell, 21, of Huntington, 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 past 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.
Plante is currently housed at Western Regional Jail in Barboursville.
Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.