State law permits Nicholas County incest charges, sheriff says
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Last week, Nicholas County authorities charged a Mount Nebo man and his stepdaughter with incest - even though the pair aren't related by blood, and are both above the legal age of consent.
County authorities cited the inclusive definition of "daughter" in state law.
Nicholas County Sheriff David Hopkins said it doesn't matter that Kelcey Nicholas, 28, and his 21-year-old stepdaughter, Lataura Jarrett, are not biologically related. Nicholas married Jarrett's mother five years ago, and Jarrett had referred to him as her father, the sheriff said.
Sgt. W.K. Shafer and State Police Cpl. D.P. White went to Nicholas' home on Haynes Mill Road in Mount Nebo to arrest him for a home confinement violation on Sept. 19, Hopkins said.
That's when police officers discovered Nicholas and Jarrett having intercourse, the sheriff said.
Before charging the pair, Shafer researched state law regarding incest and consulted Nicholas County Prosecuting Attorney James "P.K." Milam, Hopkins said. They all agreed that Nicholas and Jarrett should be arrested because of the law's definition of a daughter.
According to state law, a daughter is the natural daughter of a person's husband or wife -- and Nicholas is still married to Jarrett's mother, Hopkins said. Jarrett was about 16 when her mother married Nicholas, he said.
"If you look real close at the code side, and Sgt. Shafer is a real stickler for the details," Hopkins said, "you can look and see it does include stepdaughters."
The law also defines a daughter to include a person's adoptive children, but Nicholas did not adopt Jarrett after marrying her mother, Hopkins said.
After she reached adulthood, Jarrett moved out of Nicholas' home, the sheriff said. She later got married in Summersville, he said.
Deputies charged Nicholas and Jarrett each with seven counts of incest, which is a felony that calls for a penalty of between 5 and 15 years in prison.
Nicholas County Magistrate Doren Plummer bound Nicholas' case over to circuit court on Thursday. A trial date has not been set and he remained in Central Regional Jail in lieu of a $70,000 bail on Friday. Jarrett is free on bond and scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Nicholas Magistrate Court on Oct. 3. A working number for Jarrett could not be found. It's unclear if either has an attorney.
Reach Travis Crum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5163.