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Plants won’t step away from murder-for-hire case

By Kate White, Staff writer

Kanawha Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants said Wednesday his office won’t step aside from a murder-for-hire plot against a Charleston detective as the city’s mayor has asked.

“This is just another attempt by Danny Jones to play politics — there is no basis in law or logic to Mr. Jones’ statement,” Plants said in a written statement.

Mayor Jones said at a council meeting Monday night that he wanted Plants office off the case of a South Charleston man charged with plotting to hire two people to kill Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper, who is chief of detectives.

“Plants doesn’t like Cooper. He knows it. I know it. And I don’t know if Charleston Police likes him, but we want him off that case,” Jones said.

Jones said Wednesday he’s not sure what the city will do, but he still believes Plants’ office shouldn’t prosecute the case.

In addition to the solicitation-to-commit-murder charge, Darrell Emmett “D.J.” Carter, 18, is also charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a 19-year-old on Charleston’s West Side last month. Police say Carter admitted to shooting Tymel McKinney after being ordered to commit the crime by a superior in a Detroit gang.

“Solicitation of murder is a very serious crime, a suspect that would allegedly hire someone to murder a law enforcement officer is particularly dangerous,” Plants said. “My office is committed to seeking justice on behalf of all crime victims, and I will prosecute this case based on the evidence to the fullest extent of the law, just like any other case.”

Last month, the city of Charleston filed a petition in Kanawha Circuit Court to have Plants’ office removed from prosecuting domestic violence cases in the city that involve abuse between parents and minor children.

Plants has been charged with domestic battery of his 11-year-old son and violating a domestic violence protective order. Both are misdemeanor charges.

Responding to the petition filed by the city of Charleston, Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom barred Plants’ office from cases involving child abuse and neglect, violent crimes against children by their parents and criminal violations of protective orders. The judge appointed former longtime assistant prosecutor Don Morris to handle those cases, along with three assistant prosecutors. Those assistants will report to Morris, not Plants.

State Supreme Court justices heard arguments Monday on whether to suspend Plants’ law license until an investigation is completed by the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which oversees attorneys in the state. After Plants was charged for the second time, the ODC called for Plants immediate suspension and said he “poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to the public.”

The ODC is also investigating Plants over a complaint filed against him on allegations that he gave his former secretary — and now wife — special treatment.

Plants has been criticized for the $15,000 in pay raises Sarah Plants received during the four years she worked for him. She also had multiple motor-vehicle violations dismissed in magistrate court without proof that the violations were corrected.

Allison Plants filed for divorce from the prosecutor in June 2012. Sarah Plants, who was married to Charleston Police Detective Andrew Foster while she worked for Mark Plants, filed for divorce from Foster in October 2013. Sarah and Mark Plants have a child together.

Jones said Monday night that the conflict between Charleston Police and Plants’ office, “has gone on for a long time. Tonight it made the press, because I put it out there. But it’s been festering for a long time.”

On Monday, Jones said he hoped Plants’ office would remove itself from the case voluntarily. Wednesday, after being told of Plants’ response, Jones said he wasn’t sure what the city’s next step would be.

“We could go to court over it — I’m not sure — but he should get off the case,” the mayor said. “If there’s anybody on our police department that has any confidence in Mark Plants, I haven’t met him.”

Plants said that the first time he was made aware of how Jones felt was through the media.

“I would suspect if Mr. Jones had a legitimate concern, he would contact my office — not run to the media,” Plants said.

Jones responded that he was simply addressing his concerns in front of council members.

“I didn’t run to the media, I went to my council. I wanted to report to them because one of our officers had been threatened and I thought it would be prudent to do it,” Jones said. Plants “doesn’t like Cooper, he’s told me so, and I don’t report to Mark Plants.”

Reach Kate White at

kate.white@wvgazette.com

or 304-348-1723.


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