Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

October 2, 2012

Man sentenced to jail time for fleeing, failure to register as sex offender

PRINCETON — After hearing emotional appeals for leniency, a Mercer County judge handed down a sentence Monday a local man who had previously fled to Colorado to avoid sex offender registry charges.

Freddie Nelson, 40, originally of Princeton was arrested in June after the U.S. Marshals Service found him living near Denver. On April 26, 2010, Nelson went to the West Virginia State Police for a sex offender registry update regarding employment, Cpl. J.C. Long of the state police said when Nelson was brought back to Mercer County.

It was determined in April 2010 that Nelson had discarded two cell phone numbers and failed to report this. People on the state’s sex offender registry have 10 business days to report any changes to their files. Nelson was convicted on Jan. 7, 2008, in Wood County for battery, sexually motivated, Long said. The charge involved a minor child. He is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

After Nelson was arrested in May or June 2010, he appeared in magistrate court in Princeton for sex offender registration violations, Long said.

Nelson began complaining about chest pains and was taken to near Princeton Community Hospital. He then disappeared, Long recalled.

During Monday’s sentencing hearing, attorney Ryan Flanigan asked Judge Omar Aboulhosn to consider putting Nelson on home confinement and probation. He pointed out his client was not facing felonies, had a college education, and would be a productive member of society if he could work in the community. Nelson was also needed at home to help care for his 7-year-old son, Flanigan said.

Members of Nelson’s family spoke on his behalf.

“I know for a fact he’s changed his life,” said Nelson’s wife, Jennifer Nelson, who added that he had turned to the Bible for guidance and was needed at home to help raise their son.

“He’s not a bad person,” she said, fighting back tears.

Nelson made a tearful appeal of his own and said, “I’m a changed man.”

He spoke of God granting forgiveness, and that he wanted to complete the “homework” that God gives parents — to raise his son. He said that he took the sexual offender registry seriously and had made a mistake when trying to comply with it.

“I’m a good man,” Nelson told Aboulhosn. “If you give me a chance to go home, you’ll never have a problem with me again...I’m a good man. My little boy needs me and my wife needs me.”

Aboulhosn said the initial violations Nelson faced two years ago were minor, and if he had gone to court then, the chances that he would have received probation were good.

The judge compared Nelson’s situation to cases he had seen on the television show “Cops” in which people facing a ticket for a minor traffic violation try to flee police and end up facing felony charges after they are stopped. Giving probation to a person who left Mercer County to avoid prosecution would be a bad example for the community, Aboulhosn said.

Aboulhosn sentenced Nelson on two charges of failure to provide changes to the West Virginia sex offender registry. Each charge carried a penalty of one to five years in prison. The judge ruled that the sentences would run concurrently. Aboulhosn told Nelson, who could have faced two to 10 years in prison, that he was “getting a break.”

“There’s no question you are deeply loved by your family and have good support at home,” Aboulhosn said. “Had you not run, you most assuredly would have gotten probation.”

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kelli Harshbarger represented the state.

— Contact Greg Jordan


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