Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 23, 2014

Attempt to commit first-degree murder: Mercer man pleads guilty

PRINCETON — A Mercer County man who stole a pickup truck in October 2013 and attempted to run down a state police trooper pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of  attempt to commit first-degree murder.

Richard Anthony Hart, 46, of Matoaka, entered the plea deal before Circuit Court Judge William Sadler. The state agreed to dismiss grand larceny, DUI and fleeing while DUI charges as part of the plea agreement, according to Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler.

Hart faces a possible sentence of three to 15 years in prison for the attempt to commit first-degree murder charge, Sitler said. With good behavior, Hart could be released within seven and a half years, he stated later.

Sadler accepted the plea agreement. Hart’s attorney, Joe Harvey, who said there “was virtually not chance of probation” asked the judge to proceed with sentencing so his client would not have to spend more time at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver.

Sadler ordered that Hart’s presentencing report be updated, and that a victim impact statement be obtained from Shrewsbury.  Sentencing was scheduled for May 19.

The incident began Oct. 7, 2013 after troopers responded to a report of a Ford Ranger in the Spanishburg area. Cpl. P.H. Shrewsbury was in Lashmeet at the time and cut across Rich Creek Road. He encountered the stolen vehicle and saw standing next to the driver’s side door. Shrewsbury knew Hart from previous cases and called him by name. Hart then jumped in the vehicle and swerved at Shrewsbury and tried to hit him, according to earlier reports in the Daily Telegraph. Hart crashed the truck into a ditch and was taken into custody without incident.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Sitler said that Hart admitted that he was extremely intoxicated when he drove toward Shrewsbury, and had no recollection of the incident. Hart had consumed multiple Dilaudid and Xanax pain pills as well as a quanity of beer.

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