Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

September 22, 2012

Mercer man pleads guilty to lesser charges

PRINCETON — A Mercer County man who was indicted in June on a charge of first-degree murder has entered into a plea agreement on lesser charges in Mercer County Circuit Court.

Mark Steven Tessa, 25, of Princeton was indicted by the Mercer County Grand Jury on charges of first-degree murder and delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance, cocaine.

The case involved the death of Rachel Lynn Watson, 29, of Princeton, who died March 2 of a drug overdose. Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash said at the time of the indictment that Tessa allegedly provided Watson with cocaine and hydromorphone.

On Tuesday, the state agreed to dismiss the indictment, according to information with the Mercer County Circuit Clerk’s Office. Tessa agreed to plead to an information including child neglect resulting in substantial risk of serious bodily injury and delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance, hydromorphone. Tessa was judged guilty, and sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 16.

Ash said Friday that Tessa admitted to giving Watson hydromorphone, but that drug was not the cause of her death. She had died of a cocaine overdose.

“We don’t have any evidence that he provided the cocaine,” Ash said.

The child neglect charge was connected to an earlier incident, before Watson’s death, in which Tessa was using drugs when he was supposed to be taking care of his 5-year-old child, Ash said. The child could describe the procedure for injecting drugs.

Tessa could face a term of one to five years on the child neglect charge and one to 15 years in prison for the hydromorphone charge, Ash said.

Tessa is incarcerated at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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