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Man, 19, pleads guilty to kidnapping

December 11, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A day before his trial was set to begin, 19-year-old Belcher Grady pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges that he kidnapped an 83-year-old woman and made her drive to a bank, where he tried to make her withdraw $8,000 from her checking account.

Grady, of Martinsburg, pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and one count of first-degree robbery. As a condition of the plea bargain, a count of burglary was dismissed.

Under the terms of the plea, Grady will be sentenced to serve two concurrent 20-year sentences. He will be eligible for parole after five years and could be released in 10 years under the state's good-time policy, in which a day is taken off each inmate's sentence for each day he behaves.

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The victim, 84-year-old Dorothy Hensell, was not in the courtroom. Martinsburg Police Department Detective Sgt. George Swartwood said he spoke to Hensell's son earlier in the day. Charles Hensell, speaking on behalf of his mother and family, told Swartwood that he agreed with the plea bargain, Swartwood said.

Craig Manford, Grady's attorney, said he will ask that Grady serve his sentence at Anthony Correctional Center, which is designed to house younger offenders. Anthony Center, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., is for convicted felons who committed the crime on or after their 18th birthday and were sentenced before reaching age 21. An offender serves six months to two years at the center and the remainder of his sentence as probation.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said she opposes and will argue against the Anthony Center option. Grady is to be sentenced Feb. 9.

Answering questions from Circuit Judge David Sanders, Grady said he has a sixth-grade education and barely can read and write. Manford read the guilty plea form aloud to him.

When Sanders asked Grady whether the two charges were true, Grady replied, 'Yes'. However, he did not offer a "recitation" - or his version of what happened.

According to police and court documents, on Dec. 13, 2002, Grady forced his way into Hensell's Candi Court home and took $500 that she offered him to leave. Instead of leaving, he forced her to drive to BB&T Bank on Queen Street to try to make her cash a check for $8,000. When Hensell whispered to a teller that she was in trouble, Grady prodded Hensell in her side as if he had a gun and then jumped out of her car and fled.

Afterward, Grady used one of Hensell's credit cards to buy gasoline at a Sheetz store and clothes from a Bon-Ton store. He was arrested in February in Kentucky.

Hensell, who was 83 at the time, had surgery for unrelated injuries after the incident and suffered a stroke. She now has memory and speech problems, Games-Neely said.

"She's recovering as well as can be expected," Games-Neely said. Not long after the incident, Games-Neely said she and Swartwood discussed plea bargains in general with her and asked her whether she would agree to one.

"This was within her wishes in the very beginning," Games-Neely said.

Had the case gone to trial today as originally scheduled, Games-Neely said she would have relied on a video-taped statement Hensell gave to police shortly after she was kidnapped.

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