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Grady gets pair of 20-year terms

February 10, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Citing the heinous nature of the crime, a judge on Monday refused to sentence a man convicted of robbing and kidnapping an 83-year-old woman to the Anthony Center, a facility for young offenders that serves as an alternative to prison.

Belcher Grady, 20, of Fairfax Street in Martinsburg, was instead sentenced to two 20-year prison terms, to be served concurrently, said Circuit Judge David Sanders.

On Dec. 10, 2003, Grady entered an Alford plea to one count of kidnapping and one count of first-degree robbery.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but agrees the state has enough evidence to gain a conviction.

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Grady's attorney, Craig Manford, told Sanders he felt the Anthony Center would be appropriate. At the Anthony Center, young offenders must earn a GED and learn a trade skill. They spend six months to two years there before being released.

Grady, who barely can read and write and has no job skills, dropped out of school while he was a sixth-grader, Manford said.

"I think that speaks volumes for some of the problems he had growing up," Manford said.

He said Grady was abusing OxyContin at the time of the robbery, and has been addicted to cocaine and heroin.

"I think we'll see Belcher again and again and again throughout his adult life" if he is sentenced to prison, Manford said.

Manford said that after Grady's father died, he found a "surrogate father" in Kevin Cornell, who is facing a murder charge. Police charged Cornell with being one of three men who tied up and beat to death a 93-year-old Martinsburg man in January 2003.

Grady voluntarily gave police information about the death, Manford said.

When he gave a statement to Sanders during the court hearing, Grady apologized to the victim and her family and said he wants to go to the Anthony Center, where he can get his GED and learn skills that will help him do something with his life. Being around a bunch of convicts in prison would not help him, Grady said.

Arguing against an Anthony Center sentence, Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said Dorothy Hensell, who was 83 when the robbery happened on Dec. 13, 2002, opened her door because she was worried someone was in trouble. Grady forced his way into her home, demanded cash and then drove Hensell to the BB&T bank on Queen Street, where he tried to make her withdraw $8,000. He told Hensell he had a gun and at one point threatened to shoot her, police said.

After Hensell whispered to a bank teller that she was in trouble, Grady jumped out of her car and fled on foot. He was arrested nearly two months later in Florence, Ky.

Dorothy Hensell's son, Charles Hensell, said at the hearing that his family agreed with all aspects of Grady's plea bargain except a possible Anthony Center sentence.

"This could happen again to another mother, grandmother," he said.

Martinsburg Police Department Detective Sgt. George Swartwood, who investigated the case, agreed.

"I can't think of a more predatory-type (of) crime," he said. The nature of the crime cries out for a prison sentence, he said.

Grady will be eligible for parole after serving five years and could be released in 10 years under the state's good-time policy, under which a day is taken off an inmate's sentence for each day he behaves. He will be given credit for the year he already has served in jail.

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