By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
A 17-year-old Front Royal girl was sentenced Monday in Warren County Circuit Court to an indefinite period of probation lasting no longer than her 21st birthday on a charge of malicious wounding in the beating of another teenage female with a flashlight.
Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp told Paige Elizabeth Williams that she must earn her high school diploma in the next few months as a condition of her probation. Williams has been taking courses in the Northwestern Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Winchester since her arrest last fall.
Her attorney, David Downes, said he will meet with Warren County Public Schools' officials to determine how many credits Williams will receive for courses studied during her incarceration.
Williams was convicted and sentenced as a juvenile under a plea agreement she entered in the case. Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Layton said it's unusual for a circuit court to convict and sentence a defendant as a juvenile.
Williams' case was transferred from juvenile and domestic relations to circuit court last fall where she was charged as an adult.
She was accused of beating another teenager with a Maglite flashlight in an attack that left the victim with a broken nose, broken cheekbone and cuts requiring 16 to 18 stitches in the front and back of the head.
If convicted as an adult, the defendant would have faced a sentence of five to 20 years.
The attack came at an outdoor birthday party held for Williams along a riverbank on Sept. 4. The prosecution and defense both mentioned that a series of threatening and bullying messages between Paige Elizabeth Williams and the victim, Catherine Williams, preceded the attack by several days. Layton said the two are not related. He said Catherine Williams was 18 at the time of the attack.
Williams told Hupp before her sentencing that she was determined to not repeat the behavior that landed her in court. Moments before, Hupp said he had received a pre-sentence report indicating her behavior "deteriorated" recently in the juvenile detention center.
"I need to go home," Williams told Hupp. "I honestly feel like I'm ready to go home."
Williams added that she wanted a chance "to go out and prove" she had learned important lessons from her incarceration, lessons she would use to better herself and make a contribution to the community.
"You certainly are bright, and your grades reflect that," Hupp told her in a reference to her strong academic progress while in jail.
"But you also need an attitude adjustment," Hupp added.
Hupp told her that reports that she had been recently disrespectful toward jail staff "concern me greatly" and warned her "there'll be serious consequences" if she continued to show the same behavior toward those supervising her probation under the state Department of Juvenile Justice.