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Man gets jail in W.Va. crash that killed teen

March 14, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The tears that Joshua Delano Sealock shed in Berkeley County Circuit Court Friday during his sentencing hearing were "crocodile tears," not tears of remorse for the negligent homicide of a 16-year-old boy in 2006, 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes said.

Sealock 21, formerly of 67 Domino Court in Berkeley County, was sentenced to one year in jail on a negligent homicide charge and a one- to five-year term on a felony child neglect count that will be served concurrently for the Aug. 9, 2006, death of Brian A. McClurg of Martinsburg.

Sealock was indicted in May 2007 on two counts of felony child neglect, negligent homicide and possession of marijuana. He entered guilty pleas to negligent homicide and one count of felony child neglect to resolve the state's case against him.

Wilkes also ordered Sealock to pay two $1,000 fines and $10,297 in court costs and restitution, and denied motions for probation and home confinement made by defense attorney Paul E. Lane.

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Sealock told the court Friday that had been baptized since being incarcerated and apologized for his actions.

"I'm just trying to be a better person," Sealock told Wilkes in a wavering voice that sounded as if he was about to cry.

Wilkes told Sealock that his tearful statement seemed to be more about his fear of the jail sentence that he was going to receive than regret about the death of McClurg and contained "no remorse, no contrition."

"Those were no tears of remorse," said Wilkes, who added that he didn't like the terms of the plea agreement, but ultimately said he would agree to be bound by it.

"It's the only appropriate thing to do," Wilkes said.

McClurg was one of four passengers riding in a white 1993 Nissan Altima driven by Sealock when he crashed the car on Welltown Road, police have said.

Passengers Austin Ferguson, Ryan Smallwood and Michael Butts survived, but Smallwood lost part of his leg in the accident, and all three males were treated for broken bones and other injuries, according to court records. Ferguson, then age 10, is the son of Sealock's fiancée.

McClurg's father, John P. McClurg, said in court Friday that he was reminded of his youngest son every day.

"When a parent dies, you lose your past," said McClurg, who held up a large photograph of his son and showed it to the court and those seated in the gallery at the beginning of his statement. "When a child dies, you lose your future ... When a wife loses her husband, she is a widow. When a husband loses his wife, he is a widower. When a parent loses a child, there's no name for that. I guess it's so bad, they didn't come up with a name."

"At first I was in shock, disbelief," McClurg recalled when told of his son's death. "I thought to myself, how could my 16-year-old son be dead. He was so strong."

McClurg said he was amazed at the outpouring of support when his son was killed, and said more than 500 people attended his funeral.

McClurg said his son was about to begin his sophomore year at Martinsburg High School, and the school's football coach wanted him to be a receiver on the team. His son also embraced the students who were "not so popular," and mowed the lawns of elderly neighbors for no pay.

"He just did it," said McClurg, who asked Wilkes to give Sealock the maximum sentence.

"I know that it's not going to bring Brian back," said McClurg, who suggested Sealock's time in jail would give him time to reflect on "that fateful morning when he abandoned all judgment."

Sealock was traveling at a high rate of speed when he crashed the car he was driving into two trees along Welltown Road, police have said.

"My son went through the back window," John P. McClurg said Friday.

Just prior to the accident, police have said they learned that eggs were thrown from a vehicle at Sealock and others who were at a party at a home at 1005 Welltown Road. The incident prompted Sealock to chase after the vehicle, and the crash happened in the 600 block of Welltown Road after the car crested a slight hill after midnight on McClurg's 16th birthday, police have said.

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