Attorney asking to withdraw from DUI death case

August 7, 2018

Scott Hensley, 37, left, appears in Cabell County Circuit Judge Gregory Howard's courtroom Monday as his attorney requests to withdraw from a case accusing Hensley of killing a woman while driving intoxicated.

HUNTINGTON — The attorney for a man accused of killing a woman while driving drunk two years ago has requested to withdraw from the case after butting heads with his client on whether or not to take the case to trial.

Johnathan Scott Hensley, 37, of Huntington, was indicted in March on charges alleging driving under the influence causing death and driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury. Melanie Ann Stephenson died in the hospital about a week after the incident. A second victim, Judy Kaye Stephenson, survived but was still in the hospital recovering at the time of her sister’s death.

The sisters had been walking in the Walmart parking lot when the collision occurred. Hensley’s attorney David Tyson requested to withdraw from the case after Hensley would not follow his recommendations on the prosecutor’s plea offer.

“We’ve had discussions and an offer has been made. Mr. Hensley has rejected that and wishes to go to trial,” he said. “Based on my study of the case, I don’t believe that I could offer a viable defense for him.”

Witnesses identified Hensley as the driver of the vehicle in question and said he was driving excessively fast, talking on his cellphone and looking into the store while driving along the building’s entrance. The defendant said he heard a noise and realized he struck two people.

The responding officer said Hensley’s actions were inconsistent. The officer said Hensley was demonstrative, aggressive and loud before retreating into a mellow state where he would refer to the officer as “bro.” At one point Hensley became fatigued to the point of needing to lie down before quickly becoming alert, according to the criminal complaint.

The officer said Hensley’s pupils were dilated and he was sweating profusely in a controlled environment. Hensley refused a field sobriety test, but the officer got a warrant for Hensley’s blood to be screened for narcotics.

The case was reset to Aug. 27 to give Tyson a chance to file a written motion to withdraw so both sides can make arguments before Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.

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