Court affirms Webster County sex offender's conviction, sentence - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Court affirms Webster County sex offender's conviction, sentence

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The state Supreme Court says there's no reason to undo a Webster County sex offender's conviction and sentence for having sexual contact with a minor.

Alvin Chambers, an inmate at the Mt. Olive Correctional Complex, had been sentenced in 2005 on two counts of third degree sexual assault and two counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian.

The two sexual assault counts were to run concurrently, as were the two sexual abuse counts. The sexual abuse sentence, however, was to be served consecutively to the sexual assault charges — meaning Chambers was ordered to spend 20 to 40 years behind bars.

He'd lost two previous petitions for a writ of habeas corpus, and the court after reviewing his third petition “found no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error” to warrant overturning the lower court's decision. As in earlier filings, Chambers argued his original trial counsel was ineffective, claiming his attorney failed to protect his right to be free of unlawful searches and seizures, failing to hold the state to its burden of proof and failing to convince the court to dismiss the charges against him with prejudice, so they could not be re-filed.

A circuit court judge denied that petition, pointing out his concerns with trial counsel had been addressed in previous rulings. Because he'd failed to address new issues in the habeas proceedings, “the court finds the petitioner has waived the right to assert those grounds” and thus exhausted his request for relief. “'Bald assertions' without detailed factual support [do] not justify the issuance of a writ, the appointment of counsel, and the holding of a hearing,” Loughry wrote. “This court finds that while petitioner alleged ineffectiveness of habeas counsel, he set forth detailed factual support only for his claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Because (he) has already had prior habeas proceedings in which he was afforded counsel and a hearing, he may not re-raise the ineffectiveness of trial counsel.”