By Wendy Holdren
A 31-year-old Beckley man was sentenced to three to 12 years for wanton endangerment and retaliation against a witness from a 2011 shooting incident.
Michael Darnell Harvey, who maintains his innocence, was found guilty at the conclusion of his second trial in November 2013 of five counts of wanton endangerment and one count of retaliation against a witness.
The jury was deadlocked during his first trial in April 2013, so Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge Robert A. Burnside declared a mistrial.
Raleigh County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tom Truman described Harvey as “educated, articulate and a bright individual,” but he said that the shots he fired put a lot of people at risk.
“When you fire a gun, you lose control of where that bullet goes,” Truman said.
The shooting incident happened on April 20, 2011 on Canaday Street; Harvey was ultimately found guilty of attempting to shoot a police informant who was standing in the driveway of his mother.
“There were no injuries. There were a couple of close calls, but by some miracle, no injuries,” Burnside said.
Harvey’s attorney David Hart said his client has maintained that he is innocent, throughout both trials and even at his sentencing Thursday.
Hart asked the court to consider consecutive sentencing or an alternative sentence, such as home confinement.
Because the shots were fired in a highly populated neighborhood and the number of lives that were put at risk, Truman said home confinement would not be appropriate.
He also noted that threats against witnesses, judges and members of the judicial system should not be tolerated.
Harvey then addressed the court and first thanked Burnside for allowing him to spend some time with his mother before she passed away; she was terminally ill with cancer.
“It was the hardest time of my life, but that time with her was much needed,” Harvey said.
“The two and a half year bond has restricted my life and I’ve been incarcerated for five months. My name has been forever tarnished.”
He reiterated that he believed he is innocent, and then Judge Burnside proceeded with sentencing.
“I have to treat all these allegations as being true. It’s the jury’s decision. They were persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt. The court is not permitted and should not be under the system of justice able to consider the defendant’s innocence.”
Burnside sentenced Harvey to two years for each of the five counts of wanton endangerment, to run concurrently, and one to 10 years for the retaliation charge, to run consecutively, for a total of three to 12 years.
The maximum possible sentence would have been 35 years.
Burnside also ordered Harvey to pay a $2,000 fine, prosecution fees and restitution.