She is accused of damaging three rental units in city
By Alex Bridges -- email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- A deal reached Tuesday gives a woman accused of damaging three city homes up to six years to pay part of the repair costs.
Renee McFarland, 38, last known to live in Clarksburg, W.Va., appeared in Winchester Circuit Court on Tuesday to face three felony counts of destruction of property and four misdemeanor charges of failing to properly dispose of dead animals.
City authorities accused McFarland of damaging rental homes at 221 Boyd Ave., 337 Shawnee Ave., and 333 Shenandoah Ave., while she lived at the residences from 2007 through 2010. Police also charged McFarland in the summer 2010 with leaving the corpses of four cats and a rabbit in the garage at the Boyd Avenue home.
McFarland faced a jury trial set for Friday.
A plea agreement reached between the commonwealth and her attorney, William A. "Beau" Bassler calls for McFarland to stipulate that prosecutors have sufficient evidence for a finding of guilt in the three felony counts. The agreement called for McFarland to pay $10,000 in a lump sum divided among the victims as follows: $4,700 to Joanna McCall; $3,900 to Julie Hayes; and $1,400 to Linda Trimble.
Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. accepted the agreement after he asked whether the victims approved of the deal.
Commonwealth's Attorney Alex Iden noted the all three victims signed the agreement.
Outside the courtroom Iden explained the plea agreement attempts to make the victims whole.
The prosecutor admitted the payment sought in the agreement does not come close to the damage costs in the restitution but the deal does allow the victims to pursue civil action against the defendant.
"Restitution is punishment," Iden noted. "It's still punishment for her."
But Hayes said the outcome "sets a bad example" and complained the restitution ordered barely covers the damage costs.
"I'm just glad it's over," Hayes said.
However, Hayes and McCall both expressed disappointment about the outcome.
"It's not enough," McCall said by phone Tuesday night. "It's not going to cover nothing.
McFarland must undergo mental health treatment with a licensed counselor, with a report submitted to the court by the defense counsel every six months to confirm only her compliance with the term, not to include any details about the matters discussed, according to the deal.
During the second, three-year period, McFarland must continue counseling and her attorney shall submit a report each year.
Iden also asked that McFarland be required to show the court she has a physical home address.
The court plans to continue the matters for a probationary period of three years, during which the defendant must make monthly payments of $100 toward the restitution, split among the three victims according to the amount of restitution owed.
At the end of the first three years, if the defendant abides by the terms of the agreement, the court will find her guilty of the reduced charges of misdemeanor destruction of property.
McFarland then would receive consecutive 12-month jail terms, all time suspended.
McFarland then must serve an additional three years of unsupervised probation but under the same conditions as the previous period, including the requirement that she pay $100 per month toward the restitution.
Upon her successful completion of the probation, the remaining restitution will be entered as a civil judgment against her, according to the agreement.
Failure to abide by the terms shall result in finding her guilty on the three felonies.
Any unpaid portion of the $96,000 owed to the victims may be ordered as criminal restitution.
Under the agreement, the commonwealth asked the court to dismiss McFarland's remaining five misdemeanor charges.