By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
After a circuit judge explained the right to a trial by jury and other rights, a Virginia man pleaded guilty to two counts of soliciting a minor by computer.
John Howard Reynolds, 39, of Honaker, Va., appeared Thursday for a plea hearing before Circuit Court Judge Omar Aboulhosn. Reynolds was arrested April 18 by the West Virginia State Police and later arraigned on charges including soliciting/enticement of a minor by computer and use of minors in filming sexually explicit conduct. The case involved a 16-year-old girl, according to Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kelli Harshbarger.
The Mercer County grand jury later indicted on 14 charges. During Thursday’s hearing, Reynolds pleaded guilty to two counts of soliciting a minor by computer. The incidents occurred in February and November 2012.
Each count carries a possible term of two to 10 years imprisonment. Whether these terms will run concurrently or consecutively will be at the discretion of Judge Aboulhosn, Harshbarger said after the hearing.
Speaking softly, Reynolds was asked more than once to speak into a microphone as he answered the judge’s questions. He replied “Yes, sir” multiple times as Aboulhosn asked him questions such as if he understood his right to a jury trial and if he understood that pleading guilty was the equivalent of a conviction.
Harshbarger said evidence presented at trial would have shown how Reynolds contacted the victim on the Internet and sent her nude photographs of himself; in turn, she sent him nude photographs of herself. Harshbarger declined to say more about the juvenile.
Aboulhosn accepted the plea and scheduled a sentencing date for Jan. 2, 2014. Reynolds was then told he will have to begin registering with the West Virginia State Police as a sex offender upon his release. He will have three days after leaving prison to begin meeting this requirement.
Reynolds was remanded back to the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver.