2012 NPT PHOTO BY GILBERT SOESBEE Circuit Judge Ben W. Hooper took the unusual step of coming down from the bench to administer the oath to tell the truth to 57-year-old Thomas Walter McCusker during a hearing on Monday. The defendant is legally blind, extremely hard of hearing, and suffered the loss of a leg last week. Nevertheless, Judge Hooper handed down the maximum 12-year prison term after McCusker pled guilty to two counts of voluntary manslaughter on Monday. Assistant District Public Defender Keith Haas also took the oath because he earlier advised McCusker of his constitutional rights before the sentencing hearing.
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
(Last modified: 2012-11-06 08:45:35)
Author: Gilbert Soesbee
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

NEWPORT-In a wheelchair and obviously disabled, a 57-year-old Cosby man pled guilty on Monday to two counts of voluntary manslaughter.

After hearing an emotional statement from the sister and daughter of the victims, Circuit Judge Ben W. Hooper II sentenced Thomas Walter McCusker to 12 years in state prison, the maximum time allowed by law for the offenses.

McCusker, who had been indicted on two counts of first-degree murder, entered an "open plea" to the lesser offenses, permitting Judge Hooper to determine the sentence.

The defendant, who is legally blind, extremely hard of hearing, and lost a leg last week because of a blood clot, answered "yes" when asked if he understood his constitutional rights, if he was entering a plea voluntarily, and if he was entering a plea because it was in his best interest.

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