Woman tells 911 that Plants was screaming at ex-wife

CHIP ELLIS | Gazette
Mark Plants

A woman told a 911 dispatcher Wednesday evening Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants was screaming at his ex-wife in the parking lot of John Adams Middle School.

Police described Wednesday’s incident as a child custody issue between Plants and his ex-wife, Allison. No one was arrested.

“His ex-wife asked me to call police,” a woman, whose name was edited out of the call, told a 911 dispatcher. “She’s in her vehicle, she won’t get out and he’s trying to get her to come out.”

The Gazette obtained a copy of the four-minute recording, made at about 6 p.m. Wednesday to Kanawha County Metro 911 dispatchers.

Plants faces charges of domestic battery of his 11-year-old son and violation of a domestic violence protective order, both misdemeanors. State Police charged him earlier this year with striking his son with a leather belt and leaving a six-to-seven-inch bruise on the boy’s thigh.

Plants is under a domestic violence protective order until September, which limits the time he can spend with his two sons.

On Thursday, Plants explained that Wednesday “was his scheduled time.” He referred other questions about the incident to State Police. Allison Plants did not want to comment.

Lt. Michael Baylous of the State Police said Wednesday night that Plants’ son was with his father and wanted to leave, so he texted his mother. Allison Plants attempted to pick the boy up at the school.

“We did not find any violation of the law, nor were we told by the family law judge that there was any violation,” Baylous said.

State Police consulted with Cabell County Family Court Judge Patricia Keller, who was assigned to preside over the domestic violence protection order.

After Kanawha Family Judge Mike Kelly issued Allison Plants an emergency domestic violence protection order, he and other Kanawha family court judges recused themselves, and Keller was appointed to the case.

About halfway through the call to 911, a dispatcher asked the woman if Plants and his ex-wife were still arguing.

“Yeah, he’s still yelling at her,” she said. The dispatcher asks, “Is it heated?”

“It seems to have maybe calmed down ... she wanted me to call, she didn’t want to get out of her vehicle while she was here,” the woman said.

She then tells the dispatcher that Plants had walked away from Allison Plants’ vehicle.

Baylous said police found no indication of violence.

Plants’ attorney, Paul Saluja, a Nitro attorney who represents Plants in family court, said Thursday evening that his client did nothing wrong.

Plants “was exercising his parenting time ... the police returned the children back to Mark so that he could continue exercising his custodial time,” Saluja said.

The couple isn’t supposed to have contact, according to the protective order and a deal made in the case against Plants.

As part of a deal with a special prosecutor handling charges against him, Plants also agreed to stop using corporal punishment to discipline his children and participate in a batterer’s intervention program in Putnam County. After the 32-week program, Plants’ charges may be dropped.

Putnam County prosecutor Mark Sorsaia said Wednesday that Plants has not yet enrolled in the program.

Last week, members of the Kanawha County Commission voted to file a petition to have Plants removed from office because of the increasing cost of paying a special prosecutor to handle cases Plants is barred by a court order from taking.

Responding to a petition filed by the city of Charleston, Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom barred Plants’ office from handling cases involving charges of domestic violence.

Charleston Police first responded to the call to John Adams, but turned it over to the State Police because it involved Plants.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1723 or follow @KateLWhite on Twitter.

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