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Man gets up to 71 years in prison in arson, robbery, forgery

March 28, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • Joshua D. Stevens
Joshua D. Stevens

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A man accused of setting fire to a vacant duplex in Martinsburg last year was sentenced Monday to serve as many as 71 years in prison for the arson and a string of other crimes committed in Berkeley County about a year ago.

Joshua D. Stevens, 31, was sentenced by presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III after entering Alford pleas to 10 misdemeanor and felony charges, including arson, burglary, robbery, breaking and entering, and forgery of a credit card.

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

Eligible for probation after serving 12 years and three months of the sentence, Stevens also was ordered to pay more than $44,000 in restitution to eight crime victims.  

Stevens’ conviction Monday joins two prior felony convictions since 2003, said Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Carmela M. Cesare, pointing to a pre-plea investigation report after Monday’s plea and sentencing hearing.

In 2003, Stevens pleaded guilty to grand larceny, and in 2005, he pleaded guilty to fraudulent use of a credit card and burglary, according to the report, which was prepared for Silver to review before Stevens’ sentencing.

Before formally pronouncing Stevens’ sentence, the judge said all of the police officers who were involved in investigating the crimes agreed with the plea, as did the victims.

Silver said it appeared to the court that drug abuse was a significant factor in the case, and he ordered the first restitution payments that are made to go to a single mother who Cesare said was left struggling financially to support her family after Stevens stole her car, according to court records.

Stevens in January signed a three-page agreement to enter guilty pleas to felony counts of first-degree arson, grand larceny, burglary, attempted burglary, robbery and forgery of a credit card; one misdemeanor count of domestic battery; and three misdemeanor counts of breaking and entering of an automobile, according to court records.

Stevens and co-defendant Falon Mauck were accused of setting the fire at 910 Central Ave. in a clothes dryer with items stolen from a Martinsburg Police Department cruiser near Moler Avenue, according to court records.

Mauck was sentenced earlier this month to serve two to 15 years in prison.

Stevens also was accused of robbing a man who was flown to a hospital after Stevens stabbed him, among other crimes in March and April of 2010, according to court records.

Stevens, who has been incarcerated at Eastern Regional Jail since May 2009, will serve the felony sentences consecutively.

The restitution ordered Monday includes the cost of the robbery victim’s medical treatment, which included a helicopter flight that cost about $20,000, Cesare has said.

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