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Courtney Hessler/The Herald-Dispatch Michael Joe Adkins appears in Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard’s courtroom May 9, 2018, to be arraigned on a petition to revoke his probation.

CHARLESTON — A man serving a prison sentence after being accused of violating probation related to a conviction of incest and forcing a girl’s abortion could be released after the West Virginia high court overturned a Cabell judge’s order.

Michael Joe Adkins, 36, of Ona, in 2015 entered a Kennedy plea to incest. Such a plea allows a conviction without the defendant admitting guilt or explaining his role in the crime. The sexual assault Adkins had been convicted of dates back as far as 2010, when his victim was 11 years old. The assault came to light after Adkins impregnated the girl and she was later forced to have an abortion.

Although originally sentenced to serve five years of probation, Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell later revoked Adkins’ probation in July 2018 and implemented a five- to 15-year prison sentence after hearing testimony that Adkins had admitted to hitting a woman on at least one occasion.

On Tuesday, the justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled Farrell had erred by failing to afford the petitioner a full final evidentiary probation revocation hearing.

The final order imprisoning Adkins was vacated by the Supreme Court and remanded back to Farrell for a new hearing. A hearing for that date has not been set.

Adkins’ probation revocation came after probation officer Chris May testified that Adkins admitted to striking his girlfriend on at least one occasion. Other reasons for the petition for revocation included Adkins being kicked out of a sex offender counseling program, driving without a license on multiple occasions and not paying court fees.

During his final probation revocation hearing, Adkins’ attorney Connor Robertson had filed a motion to suppress his statement to his probation officer about hitting his girlfriend. Farrell heard the motion and after arguments ruled the statement had been given voluntarily and was enough to revoke Adkins’ probation.

Although the petition to revoke his probation listed multiple reasons for the filing, Robertson was not permitted to present any other evidence surrounding the probation revocation, even after telling the court he had documents to present to the court and witnesses who were waiting to testify.

In denying hearing that evidence and testimony, Farrell said he was sufficiently familiar with the facts and allegations and did not need further presentations. He said he believed the statement about abusing the woman was enough to revoke the probation, and did, stating Adkins “got the benefit of his (plea) bargain.”

“He was not to violate any law of any kind and he chose, for whatever reason, to do that by committing a domestic violence battery upon his girlfriend on at least one occasion, possibly two,” Farrell had said.

The denial of allowing the hearing to continue meant Adkins was not given a final revocation hearing, the justices ruled.

Adkins is housed at the McDowell County Correctional Center. His parole hearing is set for 2023, and a projected release date is October 2025.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.

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