While the legal system has put most criminal cases on hold during the COVID-19 Pandemic emergency, the Wise County Circuit Court Clerk's Office has worked diligently during the past month to step-up electronic services, including the ability for incarcerated defendants to enter guilty pleas and be sentenced by two-way electronic audio/video conferencing. The first "online plea and sentencing hearing" was held on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 in the Wise County Circuit Court.
Antwain Timothy James Hale, age 38, of Coeburn, was sentenced by the Court for multiple criminal offenses to nine years and six months in the custody of the Virginia Department of Corrections with seven years and four months suspended. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $250 and serve a total active sentence of two years and two months in prison. Following his release, he will be placed on probation for a period of five years.
Hale's crimes stem from three separate incidents and include convictions for strangulation, assault & battery, obstruction of justice, intoxicated in public, possession of methamphetamine, and violating probation.
The most shocking of Hale's crimes occurred on August 11, 2019. Hale was in the town of St. Paul, Virginia when he randomly approached a group of individuals who were visiting the region from out of state. During the incident, he was acting erratically and tried to speak with the strangers. For no apparent reason, Hale lunged at a female victim, placed his hands around her throat, and briefly choked her. This terrifying incident was caught on security footage.
In October of 2018, while placing Hale under arrest for an unrelated incident, Deputies from the Wise County Sheriff's Department found methamphetamine, a dangerous narcotic, on the defendant's person. On August 2, 2019, the St. Paul Police Department received a complaint that Hale was at a gas station in the town acting as though he were under the influence of narcotics in public. During their investigation into the complaints, Hale began struggling with officers and obstructed justice. At the time of all these offenses, Hale was on felony probation for other unrelated incidents.
The Wise County Sheriff's Department and the Town of St. Paul Police Department investigated these cases and the lead prosecutor was Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Steven Davis.
Antwain Hale remains in the custody of the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail at Duffield and is awaiting transfer to the Virginia Department of Corrections.