Marshall County Judge Unhappy With Task Force

MOUNDSVILLE — Second Judicial Circuit Judge David Hummel vented his frustration with law enforcement Thursday before handing down a light sentence to a woman who confessed to selling prescription medicine to a member of her family.

Audra Edwards, 48, of Moundsville, had previously pleaded guilty to delivery of a controlled substance after handing out three pills to her nephew. For this, she pleaded guilty earlier in the summer to two counts of delivery of a controlled substance. Her attorney, Thomas White, said the small quantity of the drugs — and on a personal level, not one of widespread drug abuse — should play a part in her sentencing.

“She pleaded guilty to selling three pills,” he said. “Quantity has always been a measure of the seriousness of a drug offense.

“On the federal level, it’s given points to determine part of the sentence. At the state level, we have something better — the discretion of the judge.”

Hummel handed down a $500 fine for each charge, a total of $1,000, reasoning that he would rather Edwards pay a debt to society rather than create one.

“You have two felonies — that’s a punishment in itself,” he said. “How much more does the state have to spend of the state’s money to punish a grandma for pushing a pill? … $60 a day, actually, the cost of incarceration. $20,000 a year. I think I’ll save them the money and have you pay us.”

Glancing up at the empty courtroom — except for a member of Edwards’ family — Hummel mused that no one from the Marshall County Drug Task Force had felt it important enough to attend the sentencing despite their involvement in her arrest.

“I’d really like to know what the mission statement is of the drug task force,” Hummel said. “Is it to go out to every grandmother giving her nephew a pill? At what cost, to have an officer, wire him, spend time casing the joint, to get three pills? It’s a laudable mission, I’m sure, but I can’t imagine this is in their mission statement.”

In an unrelated matter, Christopher Vucelick, who pleaded guilty to one count of delivery, was sentenced to one to five years in prison.

Vucelick told Hummel that he reviewed the recorded footage of his crimes and felt like he didn’t recognize himself. He said the person on the recordings was not the same man in the courtroom.

“You came in here with a fresh shirt, neatly tied tie, distinctly respectful, but that’s not the person I’m sentencing,” said Hummel. “The person I’m sentencing is the scumbag on this DVD.”

Vucelick was allowed to self-report to prison at 10 a.m. Saturday after his daughter’s birthday party in the meantime.

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