The West Virginia Supreme Court will reconsider the case of a Charleston man convicted of child neglect after his girlfriend's son was hit and killed on the interstate.
Ethan Chic-Colbert, 22, is serving a three to 30-year sentence in that case. Prosecutors failed to convince a circuit judge that the man should be tried on charges of kidnapping and felony murder in the death of 11-year-old Jahlil Clements.
He was also sentenced to three one- to five-year sentences for endangering the lives of other children, who left a vehicle on the road near the Interstate 64/77 split while Chic-Colbert fought with his girlfriend, Lynitrah Woodson.
Supreme Court justices will hear arguments in the case Wednesday.
In a brief filed with the court by Chic-Colbert's attorneys, Woody Hill and Kelli Hill contend that Circuit Court Judge Duke Bloom imposed an illegal sentence on him.
The attorneys will argue that the sentence imposed was incorrect and does not conform with state law. Instead, they believe he should have received a sentence of one to three years for child neglect resulting in death.
They will also argue that he should be returned to circuit court for a motion of acquittal on the counts involving the other three children.
The Hills say the evidence was insufficient at trial to convict Chic-Colbert of child neglect, and he was not in a supervisory position.
According to testimony, the two no longer had a relationship but were driving the children from a birthday party to Woodson's home. Witnesses said they began arguing in the car and he struck her, then she pulled the car off and they continued to fight outside the car.
In their brief, the attorneys also say jurors were negatively influenced by statements made by some witnesses that Jahlil was trying to get help for his mother, who was being beaten on the side of the highway.
Bloom did caution prosecutors and witnesses during the July 2012 trial, saying no one actually knew that he was, in fact, attempting to stop other cars for assistance.
The judge dismissed the kidnapping charge against Chic-Colbert, saying the evidence didn't support it. And that forced prosecutors to drop a felony murder charge that was based on the first charge.
Scott Johnson, senior assistant attorney general, will present the state's response and ask the justices to affirm the circuit court decision.
Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at cher...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4832.