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Man gets five years in sexual assault case

March 21, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A 25-year-old convicted sex offender was sentenced to one to five years in prison Monday after he pleaded no contest to one count of third-degree sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl in 2009.

Tyree A. Eldridge also pleaded no contest to one count of possession with intent to deliver a non-narcotic substance in an unrelated case.

After entering the pleas, Eldridge also was sentenced by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh to serve another one- to five-year prison sentence for the drug conviction, but that term behind bars will be completed concurrently with the sexual assault penalty as part of a plea agreement reached between Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely and defense attorney Matthew Harvey.

After being released from prison, Eldridge will be placed on 10 years of supervised release and must register as a sexual offender for life, Groh said.

Eldridge was indicted in May 2010 on four counts of third-degree sexual assault in incidents that police allege happened between September and October 2009, according to court records.

Games-Neely told Groh that the investigating police officers who handled the Eldridge case were satisfied with the plea because it included incarceration.

The victim and her family were not in the courtroom for Monday’s plea and sentencing hearing.

Games-Neely told the court that the state’s evidence would show the girl initiated sexual contact with the defendant and that his relationship with the teenage girl was discovered by a family member who saw a cellphone text message.

In the drug case, Eldridge, who had resided in the 100 block of State Circle in Martinsburg, was arrested on drug-dealing-related charges that stemmed from a case involving a confidential informant in August 2010, Games-Neely said.

Eldridge was previously convicted of sexual assault of another teenager that Games-Neely said after the hearing was more violent.

When given an opportunity to speak on Monday, Eldridge said he intended to leave West Virginia after serving his prison term.

“You’ll never see me again,” Eldridge told Groh.

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