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Falling Waters man accused of shooting couple is sentenced to prison

Donald Mark 'Donnie' Seibert Jr. entered an Alford plea to two counts of second-degree attempted murder and two counts of malicious assault

April 11, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Falling Waters, W.Va., man accused of shooting a couple twice in the head at their home in November 2009 was sentenced Thursday to five to 23 years in prison in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

Donald Mark “Donnie” Seibert Jr., 24, who entered an Alford plea in February to two counts of second-degree attempted murder and two counts of malicious assault, had faced a maximum of six to 26 years behind bars.

An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment by a defendant that the state has enough evidence to get a conviction.

Seibert was commended by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge John C. Yoder for the steps he has taken to turn his life around since the shooting, but denied the man’s plea for probation, saying a crime of such violence could not be minimalized.

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Seibert, who has been incarcerated for more than three years, told Yoder that he was truly sorry and that the victims did not deserve to be put through the ordeal, and hoped they would find it in their heart to forgive him.

Seibert was accused of shooting Robert and Laura Hicks twice in the head at their home at 2649 McCoys Ferry Road in the Brookstone subdivision in Berkeley County on Nov. 27, 2009.

Authorities have said Seibert shot the couple in the head with a .22-caliber handgun after he went to the couple’s home to buy Oxycodone pills.

The couple recovered from the shooting, but Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Timothy D. Helman noted their continued absence from court proceedings and lack of cooperation for reasons that led to the plea agreement being executed in February.

The couple did not appear for Thursday’s hearing.

Seibert said he strongly believed that being incarcerated was the best thing that could have happened to him at the time.

Seibert admitted to having a drug problem at the time of his arrest. His attorney, Matthew Harvey, told the court that Seibert developed the drug problem following a vehicle accident.

Helman, who asked the court to impose the maximum sentence, said Seibert’s drug addiction made him a desperate person.

“It’s only by the grace of God that they managed to survive,” said Helman, who told Yoder that Seibert had every intent to kill the victims.

Seibert said he feels like his “old self again,” before the accident and the pills. Since being in jail, Seibert said he tested for his GED and has been taking college courses.

In asking the court to order probation, if not minimal jail time, Harvey told the court he had seen a remarkable change in Seibert in the time he has been incarcerated.

The plea agreement averted a second trial being held for Seibert’s case, which Helman said had a “long and tortured history.”

Two counts of malicious assault, along with single counts of grand larceny and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance in other pending cases, were dismissed as part of the agreement.

A mistrial was declared in Seibert’s first trial in September 2011 after the jury deliberated for more than three hours and had reached a verdict.

A juror told the court that a woman directed what appeared to be an obscene gesture toward her in the Berkeley County Judicial Center parking lot. Then-23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh ruled that the court couldn’t be certain if the incident didn’t weigh on the juror’s mind while deliberating the case.

Aside from the victims’ lack of cooperation, the plea agreement also voided a potential appellate issue related to former sheriff’s Deputy Christopher McCulley’s theft of Oxycodone pills that were seized by sheriff’s deputies in the shooting investigation, Helman has said.

McCulley pleaded no contest to one count of petit larceny in connection with the pill theft allegations in February 2011 after resigning from the department in the fall of 2010.

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