Trials set in methadone death case, store robbery

By Kathy Helms-Hughes


   A Johnson City woman who allegedly delayed seeking medical attention for her boyfriend after he took a lethal dose of methadone will go to trial in February on charges of criminally negligent homicide.
   The trial, which is expected to take two days, is set Feb. 13-14 in Carter County Criminal Court.
   Judge Robert Cupp on Tuesday set trial in the case of Felicia English Younce, 19, Greenwood Drive, Johnson City, who was indicted in May by a Carter County grand jury in the death of Justin Vanover, 23, 327 S. Lynn Ave. Autopsy results indicated Vanover died from a methadone overdose.
   A co-defendant in the case, Ralph "Mack" Myers, 47, 115 Bluefield Ave., was indicted May 1 on second-degree murder charges. Myers is accused of supplying the methadone.
   He was arrested May 3 by Carter County Sheriff's Department Investigator Audrey Covington and Deputy Johnny Blankenship in cooperation with Asheville, N.C., authorities after he reported to a methadone clinic in Asheville.
   Myers also appeared in court Tuesday and was set a $5,000 corporate bond. He has another hearing set for Dec. 13.
   Two North Carolinians also were scheduled for a two-day trial Tuesday in the aggravated robbery of a Buladeen Grocery store clerk.
   Christina Ann Valadez, 20, 304C Hwy. 78, Hildebrand, N.C., and Paul Ed Dalton Dollarhyde, 25, 112 W. 27th St., Newton, N.C., are scheduled for trial Feb. 6-7.
   The two were charged after they were apprehended by Johnson County Deputy Clifton Worley in a roadblock near the Carter County/Johnson County line following a Jan. 11 robbery at the store in upper Stoney Creek. After being apprehended, the two were transported back to Carter County where they were identified by the victim.
   According to previous interviews with Sheriff John Henson, the subjects entered the grocery around 5:30 p.m. Jan. 11 and asked the clerk for a couple of cartons of cigarettes.
   The clerk picked up a carton of Marlboro and laid it on top of the counter, then turned to walk toward the back of the store to get a carton of Marlboro Lights.
   "When she turned and started to walk back to the back of the store, the male struck her in the head with his fist and knocked her down onto the floor, then kicked her in the head and put his foot on top of her, holding her face down in the floor, and telling her: 'If you move, I'm going to kill you,' " Henson said. The robbers also sprayed the clerk with mace.
   While Dollarhyde held the clerk down, Valadez got the cash register and money bag and both subjects left the store in the direction of Shady Valley, pursued by Carter County sheriff's deputies, according to the sheriff.
   In Criminal Court Thursday, the owner of Jack's Restaurant in Hampton entered into a plea agreement and received an effective one year sentence after pleading guilty to three counts of statutory rape.
   Jack Howell, 60, 190 Short Coal Chute Road, was arrested July 10 after a Carter County grand jury returned a presentment charging him with having sexual relations with a juvenile male.
   Howell pleaded guilty and received one year on each count, to run concurrent. Because Howell has no prior record, he is seeking judicial diversion. A hearing is set Jan. 7. If granted diversion, Howell will not receive any jail time and the charges will be erased from his record.
   In other cases, Roger Hill, who is serving federal time on a weapons charge, received a 10-year sentence for the aggravated robbery of an elderly man. Hill told the judge that he and some friends were drinking and began talking about committing the robbery and he "just decided to do it."
   Also on Thursday, Mitchell Wayne Bowers, 26, 380 Old Mountain View Road, who escaped from Carter County Jail in August after taking a broom handle, knocking a hole in the ceiling, and making his way to the outside through a vent pipe, was appointed a public defender and set a plea deadline for Jan. 11.