Fatal DUI Suspect Released From Jail

WHEELING – John Hatfield, who allegedly caused a fatal accident while driving drunk on an Ohio County road in November, was released from jail Monday after posting a modified bond.

Hatfield posted $350,000 bond through a bail bondsman and was released from the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville. The Arkansas resident is charged with felony DUI causing death and misdemeanor DUI causing injury.

At the request of Hatfield’s attorney, Paul Harris, Ohio County Magistrate Harry Radcliffe modified the bond from cash only to corporate surety following a hearing Monday. Radcliffe also ordered Hatfield placed on monitored home confinement in Ohio County. Radcliffe forbid him from possessing or drinking alcohol and denied a request that Hatfield be placed on work release.

Ohio County Assistant Prosecutor Brian Ghaphery objected to the modification and said Hatfield had previously been charged in another alleged drunken driving incident. Harris pointed out that his client was not convicted in that case.

“The defendant is not from this area; he’s from Arkansas. He has no ties to this area other than a job,” Ghaphery said of Hatfield, who was working in the natural gas industry at the time of the crash. “If he were released … that would pose a problem and potential concern for the likelihood of his appearances at future proceedings.”

Kenneth Ward, whose daughter Stephanie Stahl died as a result of the injuries she sustained in the crash, also spoke against modifying Hatfield’s bond.

“She also had a job. She also had a family,” Ward said of his daughter. “As far as this young man is concerned, I don’t think he should be released on any kind of bond, because he is a threat to society. I wish that you would reconsider and not reduce his bond, because my daughter has no choice.”

While Radcliffe ultimately modified the bond, he thanked the victims’ families for attending the hearing and said he would not “minimize (Stahl’s) death” by reducing the bond amount.

At 3 a.m. Nov. 11, Hatfield allegedly was driving under the influence on McCutcheon Road when he crashed into the vehicle in which Stahl and Nicole Gray were traveling. Both women were transported to the intensive care unit at Wheeling Hospital, where Stahl died.

Deputies said Hatfield registered a 0.234 percent blood-alcohol content at headquarters.