The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Police/Courts

December 5, 2013

Judge sends man to jail for failure to clean up 'open dump'

Charles Keller to serve 90 days

Failure to clean up his Fitzpatrick Road property, which has been declared as an “open dump,” landed 74-year-old Charles Keller with a 90-day sentence in Southern Regional Jail Thursday.

At an October hearing, Keller was ordered to pay a $300 fine, $100 for each count of operating an open dump, and was ordered to have his property cleaned up before his next hearing in December. If not cleaned, Keller would serve 30 days for each count, to run consecutively for a total jail sentence of 90 days.

Thursday, Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick determined that Keller had not made enough effort in cleaning his property, citing only a 5 to 10 percent decrease in the amount of trash plaguing the property.

“ ... There is still a huge quantity of junk. It appears to the court there are windows, rusty folding chairs, junked automobiles and things that were there the last time we were here for our trial,” Kirkpatrick said. “The court wanted to give the defendant and his family an opportunity of 60 days to rectify the situation in full.

 “The court believes and finds that some effort has been made, but it’s only about 10 percent effort, which is, frankly, not enough. I’m fearful that the defendant may never clean up the property.”

Kirkpatrick added that the court takes no pleasure in sending anyone to jail, “particularly not an infirm gentleman of advanced years.”

“However, the law is the law and the court intents to abide by it,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick finished by stating that if Keller makes significant efforts through his family to clean the property while serving his jail time, the court will release him from state custody.

“In other words, cleaning up this property is the key to your jail cell. If you’ll arrange to have somebody come in and cart off this stuff and clean up your property, I’ll release you from jail. I don’t know how further to proceed, because this open dump has to be cleaned up.”

Keller was taken into custody and remanded to SRJ immediately following the court’s verdict.

— E-mail: bunderwood@register-herald.com

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