BOONE — A year after a local physician was found to be intoxicated behind the wheel of a stationary vehicle in a Boone intersection, he pleaded guilty to two charges in Watauga Superior Court.
Brent Dwayne Hall, 59, of Boone, entered his guilty plea to misdemeanor DWI and felony solicitation to demand taking or agree to take a bribe on Feb. 21.
Hall is the president and laboratory medical director at Pathology Associates of Boone. According to the N.C. Medical Board, Hall entered into an interim non-practice agreement February 2018. His license was reported as renewed on Feb. 17 of this year.
He was formerly the medical examiner for Watauga, Avery, Ashe, Mitchell and Yancey counties. Hall resigned in 2013 amid questions about his handling of autopsies of people who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in the former Boone Best Western hotel.
Hall was arrested on Feb. 11, 2018, after police encountered his 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser stationary in the intersection of U.S. 421 and the N.C. 105 Extension. Afterwards he was charged with DWI, possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, resisting/obstruct/delay an officer, carrying a firearm after consuming an impairing substance and felonious offering bribes.
Assistant District Attorney Jasmine McKinney said that on this day, an off-duty Boone Police officer noticed the stationary vehicle. McKinney said it was discovered that Hall was the driver of the vehicle and had red, watery eyes as well as an odor of alcohol. According to court documents, Hall had a Smith & Wesson revolver pistol in his possession at the time.
Officer Kaleb Forrest arrested Hall and took him to the police department. Once at the department, McKinney said Hall had made a statement to a separate officer that he would give Forrest $100,000 in exchange for dropping the charges and giving him a ride home that evening.
At first Hall had refused a breathalyzer test, but submitted to a blood test after police pursued a search warrant. Results of the test showed Hall’s blood alcohol level to be a .26, according to McKinney.
Superior Court Judge Marvin Pope sentenced Hall to 12 months of supervised probation for a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail and 24 hours of community service for the misdemeanor DWI charge. For the felony charge, he was given 12 months of supervised probation — to run concurrently with the first judgment — and an additional 48 hours of community service.
He was ordered to dispose of all firearms, ammunition and deadly weapons in his possession with the exception of his medical tools as a physician.
District Attorney Seth Banks said that Pope incorporated the sentence conditions with separate conditions given to Hall by the N.C. Medical Board, so that if Hall violates conditions with the medical board he would also violate his probation. Pope also imposed a conditional discharge on the felony charge — that does not impact the DWI charge — that if Hall successfully completes his probation, he can come back to court in a year and the felony charge would potentially be dismissed.
Pope stated that as part of the plea agreement, the district attorney’s office had dismissed the Superior Court charges of offering bribes, carrying a firearm after consuming and resisting a public officer as well as the District Court charges of an open container after consuming alcohol and being stopped where traffic obstructed.
Defense attorney Scott Casey stated that Hall had willingly attended detox the day after his arrest, was entered into an inpatient recovery facility and then moved to a halfway house.
“It was the most life-changing experience that I’ve ever had,” Hall said in court. “I really got to know more about myself there and why I used alcohol.”
Hall stated he has since entered into a contract with the N.C. Physicians Health Program — a nonprofit that claims to assist health care providers with substance use disorders, mental health issues, burnout or other issues. Under this program, Hall said he’s required to meet a myriad of requirements.