News from around the Mountain State

Council pushes WV to add LGBT protection to hate crime law

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Huntington City Council has approved a resolution to urge West Virginia lawmakers to include protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals under the state code dealing with hate crimes.

The Herald-Dispatch reports the council unanimously approved on Monday the resolution, which is to include protection for individuals based upon the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of a person.

Currently, the state’s hate crime statute only protects citizens from being targeted based upon their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation or sex.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams says the resolution was spurred on by his LGBT Advisory Committee.

Williams says the city considered enacting its own hate crime ordinance, but couldn’t since the state doesn’t include sexual orientation in its hate crime statute.

W.Va. report: $55m in welfare programs spent out of state

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia report says $55 million in two welfare programs was spent out of state in a year.

The House released the Department of Health and Human Resources report Wednesday at Republican Del. Jill Upson’s request.

The report says that of $457.2 million in benefits, $52.5 million was spent out of state on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, from November 2014 through October 2015.

Neighboring Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia comprised 90 percent.

About $1 million was spent in North Carolina and Florida each.

Of $29.5 million in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits over that timeframe, $2.2 million was spent out of state.

Under federal regulation, federally funded SNAP can be used at approved grocers outside the state.

WV death investigators cut cases backlog, seek accreditation

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office has been working to crackdown on the backlog of cases and to seek accreditation.

WVVA-TV reports Commissioner for the Bureau of Public Health Dr. Rahul Gupta oversees the Charleston office and says they’ve been addressing policies, procedures and staffing criteria in order to get the department accredited.

In 2015, Gupta added two pathologists to the staff and cut the backlog on autopsies by more than half, from 700 open cases to 300.

Gupta says the office has also taken the backlog of cases more than three months old from 450 to 56.

While accreditation isn’t necessary or required, he says accreditation is something he hopes the department will accomplish within the next few years.

The medical examiner’s office completed 1,236 autopsies in 2015.

Police: Woman dies after driving car into river

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — An 80-year-old woman has died after driving her car into the Elk River.

The Charleston Police Department said in a news release that Peggy Ann Jarrett of Charleston drove through an intersection and passed through the parking lot of a tire warehouse at high speed Wednesday before her car crashed into the river.

Divers from the Charleston Fire Department responded to the scene. Sgt. Mark Kinder says it took rescue crews several hours to pull the woman from the vehicle due to cold conditions and limited visibility in the water.

Police say Jarrett was the only occupant in the car. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Police say foul play is not suspected and that the investigation is ongoing.

Councilman to serve 10-20 years in prison for sex crimes

LUMBERPORT, W.Va. (AP) — A Lumberport councilman has been sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison for sex crimes involving children.

The Exponent Telegram reports a judge sentenced 65-year-old David Markley Wednesday in Harrison County Circuit Court. Markley was charged with first-degree sexual assault of a 5-year-old in the 1980s and the sexual abuse of another juvenile in late 2014.

Authorities say an investigation into the sex crimes began last year after Markley’s victim in the 1980s learned that Markley had molested her daughter.

Markley will be eligible for parole after spending a decade in prison. He also will have to pay for future counseling sessions for his victims, and register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

What will happen to Markley’s seat on council wasn’t immediately known.