by Ron Gregory
LOGAN — With jury selection incomplete, the criminal case involving the alleged May 8, 2016 attack on now-State Senator Richard Ojeda has been continued, according to court officials.
Officials had hoped to complete jury selection this week with the trial scheduled to begin against Jonathan S. Porter on Monday, March 27. Special Judge Louis “Duke” Bloom is presiding after both Logan County judges recused themselves from the highly-controversial case.
Ojeda alleges Porter attacked him at a political function on May 8, leaving Ojeda hospitalized on primary election day, May 10. In Democrat balloting that day, Ojeda prevailed over long-time public official Senator Art Kirkendoll. Early voting results showed Kirkendoll with a lead over Ojeda but that type of voting ended before the alleged battery on Ojeda. The alleged beating was the subject of national and local news coverage through election day. Supporters of Kirkendoll, who expressed sympathy of his opponent at the time, have maintained that Ojeda received at least $1.5 million in “free advertising” as a result of the fight. He was videotaped speaking from his hospital bed on more than one occasion.
Porter has also been sued by Ojeda in a civil suit in Logan Circuit Court. At the time of that suit, Ojeda’s lawyer, former Kanawha County Prosecutor Mike Clifford claimed Porter was on home confinement. Notes written by process servers from the Sheriff’s office indicate that was not the case, however. Although repeated attempts were made to serve Porter at his Whitman home, it took nearly four months to serve him with the paperwork in the civil matter.
On the criminal front, court officials said the trial date has now been set for April 11 “although that could change depending on jury selection and other factors.”
The spokesperson for Judge Bloom said jury selection is set to resume on Monday. There was no explanation from Logan officials as to why the selection process was taking longer than expected.