Driver sentenced to four months for vehicular assault

A Waverly, W.Va. man will spend the next four months in jail for his role in a drunk driving incident that injured a woman and her young granddaughter.

Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth sentenced David L. McPherson, 36, of 872 Bull Run Road, on Friday. McPherson pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular assault June 24.

He received 60 days in the Washington County Jail for each count, to be served consecutively for a total of 120 days, community control for three years, a one-year license revocation and credit for 21 days already served. He also must participate in a cognitive behavior program supervised by Adult Probation.

A violation of his community control could mean up to 18 months in prison for each count, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Jared Erb.

In November, McPherson was driving on Campus Drive and Stone Road in the area behind Belpre High School, according to Erb. McPherson went left of center and struck the vehicle occupied by the woman and her 7-year-old granddaughter. All three were taken to Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg. The woman had a broken arm. The girl had to continue her treatment for internal injuries in Charleston, W.Va.

During the plea hearing in June, Erb said McPherson’s blood alcohol level was 0.354 percent. The legal limit in Ohio is 0.08.

McPherson originally was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, not having a driver’s license, not wearing a seat belt, having expired tags and driving left of center, all misdemeanors. However, prosecutors cannot use a blood alcohol level taken in another state as evidence. After consulting with the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office, the charges were refiled with the felony aggravated vehicular assault charge in place of OVI, to be able to use the blood alcohol level.

The defendant’s mother, Janet McPherson, also of Waverly, said she didn’t think her son deserved the sentence.

“It’s not right,” she said. “There was another crime committed before the accident that was intertwined with this one. He was beaten up. They didn’t investigate it right.”

Janet said she thinks another person might have been in the driver’s seat because her son was removed on the passenger side, and she thinks a video might have been taken of his removal from the car.

“The cops were looking for another person but didn’t find anyone,” she said.

Belpre Police Chief Ernie Clevenger said he was not aware of any video such as the one McPherson’s mother described.

“(McPherson) said someone else was driving (at the time of the crash),” Clevenger said Friday. “From the crash, he had to be extricated. There was no way someone else was driving the car and switched places after the collision.”

Neither victim nor anyone from their family was in court Friday, nor did they submit a statement, Erb said. He did say the victims were asking for $10,000 in restitution from McPherson, which he is required to pay within three years. He is also required to pay court costs within one year.

“It struck me from previous conversations that it was a particularly high amount,” Burnworth said. He also said documents regarding the restitution would be exchanged between the attorneys and a hearing would be scheduled if the exchange did not satisfy the issue.

McPherson’s only statement during the hearing was: “I am a little confused by the plea agreement,” which prompted a brief conference between McPherson and his attorney, Nancy Brum, to settle the matter.