A quick look at criminal case filings in Woodward County District Court this year shows an interesting trend.

Misdemeanor filings are up and felony filings are down through the first nine months of 2019 as compared to recent years, significantly in some years.

Through Sept. 30, there had been 372 misdemeanor cases filed in district court and 219 felonies.

Here are the numbers from the previous five years for the same nine-month period.

2018

Misdemeanors 303

Felonies 268

2017

Misdemeanors 300

Felonies 232

2016

Misdemeanors 258

Felonies 260

2015

Misdemeanors 335

Felonies 385

2014

Misdemeanors 399

Felonies 343

As you can see, misdemeanor filings are more than any year except 2014 while felony fillings are less than any of the previous years at this time.

The difference?

More than likely most come from the fact that due to criminal justice reform, most drug possession cases - even involving meth - are classified as misdemeanors.

There are still plenty of drug cases that are felonies, but most involve trafficking or distribution rather than simple possession.

The most misdemeanors committed through September typically involved alcohol or drugs in some fashion. There were 89 alcohol-related filings (keep in mind many cases will include more than one count, this just shows the first count filed) primarily DUI. There were 72 drug related cases, several of them also including driving under the influence.

Some of the other top misdemeanor charges included larceny, embezzlement, hot checks, 72; vehicle related (suspended license, no license, etc…) 45 and domestic abuse cases 31. There were also 17 protective order violations and 19 cases of obstructing or trying to elude officers.

August with 81 filings was the worst month for misdemeanors.

On the felony side, there were 43 drug cases and also plenty of what would be considered more violent crimes - such as domestic abuse (22), firearms violations (17) and rape, sexual abuse and related (16). There were also 18 DUI cases, many involving repeat offenders.

There were six cases so far this year of people failing to register as sex offenders, six of identity theft or impersonation and three cases of exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

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Woodward woman pleads guilty

A woman accused of embezzling thousands from elderly residents in Woodward pleaded guilty recently to felony counts of exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult.

Melissa Kaye Pittman was sentenced to 10 years with all but the first five suspended under the supervision of the Department of Corrections on Oct. 10 by District Judge Justin Eilers.

The cases were originally filed in February 2018. In one case, a couple discovered irregularities in their finances in December 2017 and the police and DHS investigations ensued.

Pittman was charged with embezzling over $230,000 from a couple for whom she was providing caretaking services and around $1,500 from another elderly man.

Bankers called the couple at the end of December to inspect activity on their accounts, according to the initial affidavit. Pittman had worked for the couple from April of 2013 until December 2017 when her employment was terminated by the family, according to the court affidavit.

The case numbers are CF-2018-34 and CF-2018-35.

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Exploitation case filed

Another exploitation case was filed in Woodward District Court on Sept. 30.

In that case, CF-219, a Follett, Texas man is accused of two counts of exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult and one count of obstructing an officer (misdemeanor).

Cox, who is in jail on a $10,000 bond, is accused of stealing jewelry and various other items from a couple of local residents who are considered vulnerable adults. He is also accused of running from an officer who was trying to detain him. His preliminary hearing is on March 24, 2020.

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Prison assault

Assaults on corrections officers and prison assaults in general have been in headlines for the last several weeks, especially since an apparently coordinated breakout of violence at several prisons a few weeks ago.

On Oct. 3, an inmate previously at William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply was charged with assault and battery on a corrections officer while at the prison in July 12. Michael Rashawn Timmons, who is currently in DOC custody anyway on previous convictions, is accused of punching a W. S. Key officer several times in the face. Court records show an outstanding warrant and bond of $100,000 even though Timmons is currently in prison. That case number is CF-223.

Another case filed on Oct. 3 involves a rape (first or second degree) charge. Raeann Aston Hemme is accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage boy in Woodward County sometime between March and July of this year. There is an outstanding warrant on Hemme with a bond of $50,000. Case number is CF-222.

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Outstanding warrants

There have been 22 felony cases filed so far in October in district court but several of those warrants remain outstanding, ranging from grand larceny to burglary to receiving stolen property.

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Upcoming

On Thursday, Oct. 24, Arturo Ramirez is scheduled to find out his sentence in the shooting of a highway patrol trooper in August of 2018.

Ramirez, who was also shot in an exchange of gunfire, entered a blind plea of guilty to shooting with intent to kill and other charges on Aug. 20. A pre-sentence investigation has been ongoing since that time.

Also, in an ongoing murder case, a motion docket for Jessica Marie Mauphin, accused of first degree murder - malice aforethought is scheduled for Nov. 14. The other defendant in the June 2018 case, Royce Eugene Denton, is also scheduled to be in court that same day.

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