Request for lesser sentence in body concealment case denied
HUNTINGTON — A Cabell County Circuit Court judge has denied a defendant’s motion for a more lenient sentencing after he admitted to concealing the body of 35-year-old Nicola Grove when she died in 2016.
Benjamin Randolph Harshbarger, 37, was sentenced to three to 15 years in prison by Cabell Circuit Judge Christopher D. Chiles last year after pleading guilty to concealment of a deceased human body and two counts of delivery of a controlled substance.
After Grove was reported missing by her family, Harshbarger was identified as a suspect early in the investigation and confessed to the concealment after interviews with investigators. He told sheriff’s deputies that Grove overdosed sometime between late Nov. 11 and early Nov. 12 in 2016; her body was not found until Nov. 18, 2016.
During the overdose, Harshbarger had called his estranged wife and her boyfriend to his home on Beechwood Drive in Ona to help. The trio pulled Grove into a bathtub and filled it with ice, but a fight soon broke out among them.
Harshbarger then called 911 to report an assault. The defendant pulled Grove’s naked body into his bedroom, where he shut the door before deputies arrived to take a report. He did not tell deputies about her condition and fell asleep after they left.
He awoke the next day to find she had died and disposed of her body over a hill in a wooded area in the 6400 block of Saunders Creek Road in Milton.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of delivery of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, which he had possessed marijuana with the intent to deliver.
Harshbarger returned to the courtroom in early September seeking a reduced sentence of two to 10 years in prison two days before the deadline for him to reconsider sentencing.
In an order denying the motion for reconsideration filed Sept. 21, Chiles said “the sentences imposed upon the defendant are proportionate to the offenses to which the defendant pleaded guilty and to the circumstances surrounding the same. The court does not find good cause to reconsider ...”
Harshbarger is currently eligible for parole on Nov. 11, 2019, and he has a projected release date of 2024.