Ohio County Circuit Judge David Sims sentenced Matthew Justice to one to five years in prison Monday for trying to grab a Wheeling police officer's gun from its holster.
Justice, 24, of Wheeling pleaded guilty prior to sentencing to a charge of attempting to disarm a police officer and a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery. Sims sentenced Justice to one to five years on the attempted disarming charge, and one year for the battery charge. The judge ordered those sentences to be served concurrently.
On March 17, Justice's sister-in-law suspected he had been drinking, which she forbid while he was living with her and Justice's brother in their North Wheeling home. A fight erupted between the three, and Justice slammed his brother's wife to the ground and kicked her repeatedly.
Photo by Tyler Reynard
Matthew Justice stands next to his attorney, assistant public defender James Tiu, during a hearing Monday in Ohio County Circuit Court.
Police responded to the residence, and while they were placing a combative Justice in custody, he sustained a bloodied lip. Officers were compelled to transport him to Ohio Valley Medical Center for treatment before he could be booked into the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville.
While one of the officers was speaking to an emergency room nurse, Justice, who was handcuffed and shackled, reached for the gun. The second officer spotted the move and quickly tackled Justice to the ground.
"Things just got progressively worse that night," Ohio County Assistant Prosecutor Gail Kahle said, "culminating in the defendant going for a gun on the hip of a police officer."
In addition to the charges he pleaded guilty to on Monday, an Ohio County grand jury indicted Justice last week on a single count of malicious wounding.
In exchange for his plea, the state dismissed that charge.
Justice also has a prior felony conviction in Ohio, and prosecutors agreed not to pursue recidivism action against him if he pleaded guilty Monday.
"I don't know where you've been," Sims told Justice, "but it's time to get out of the orange jumpsuit and start living life the right way."