Wheeling Man Sentenced In Burglary Case

A Wheeling man convicted of attacking his wife’s ex-boyfriend in the middle of the night in Marshall County received the maximum sentence of three to 18 years in prison for his crimes Wednesday.

A jury found Jeffrey Ward, 36, guilty of felony nighttime burglary and misdemeanor battery and brandishing during a trial earlier this month in Marshall County Circuit Court.

In September, the victim reported that he was awakened in his bedroom at about 2 a.m. by Ward, who had attacked him with a screwdriver. When Ward lost control of the fight, he reportedly drew a gun and demanded that the victim inject himself with a syringe containing drugs.

The victim was able to talk Ward down, eventually signing court documents to drop a paternity case out of Ohio County.

At the time of the incident, Ward was involved in a custody battle with the victim, who was formerly in a relationship with his wife, Danielle Ward.

Speaking before sentencing, Ward said he regretted his actions, and said that he should have approached the matter differently.

“I would’ve changed the time or place — definitely would’ve made sure it was daylight. … I wish I could go back and do it differently, but despite the technological advances of mankind, we don’t have a time machine,” Ward said.

During Wednesday’s hearing Ward and his wife said his time in the military left him with serious post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I’ve buried more friends and family than I’d care to. I’ve watched friends die in combat, including my commander,” Ward said.

Ward’s attorney, Brett Ferro, argued in favor of home confinement and probation for Ward’s sentence. Ferro argued that Ward has no prior criminal history and no history of violence aside from anger issues, which he said could be addressed through counseling.

Judge Jeffrey Cramer explained to Ward some of the process of deciding how harsh of a sentence to impose — particularly, mitigating or aggravating circumstances to the crimes. Cramer pointed out that Ward had done little to mitigate the charges against him, and wasn’t helping his case by bringing his family’s drama into his sentencing hearing.

“Mr. Ward really only has one mitigating factor away from his incarceration — and I’m not even sure how much weight to put on that — and that’s his lack of a prior, civilian criminal history,” Cramer said. “That’s not the case regarding his aggravating factors — quite frankly, with which his cup runneth over. … After hearing your testimony, I believe the premeditated plan was to make this man’s death look like an apparent overdose.

“You said you can’t apologize enough, but I haven’t heard one apology to (the victim). In fact, you’ve taken the opportunity to throw a couple parting shots, and that’s what they’ll be,” Cramer continued.

Cramer sentenced Ward to one to 15 years in prison for burglary, as well as one year in jail for each misdemeanor count, to be served consecutively for an effective sentence of three to 18 years. Ward also was fined $1,500.