Two people were sentenced Thursday morning (Aug. 7) in Rappahannock County Circuit Court, including one who failed to appear and was subsequently tried in her absence.
The first sentence was handed down to 21-year-old Matthew Cory Fletcher of Amissville, who was charged with violating his probation after testing positive for marijuana — and not, Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff pointed out, for the first time. Since being found guilty last April 20 of possession of marijuana, Goff said Fletcher had tested positive multiple times, and had tried to falsify a urine sample last September.
“The handwriting appears to be on the wall here,” Goff said. “It seems clear that Mr. Fletcher can no longer benefit from probation.” Goff then asked Judge Jeffrey W. Parker to impose half of a previously suspended 90-day sentence.
Fletcher’s defense counsel, Michael Fasano, told Parker that Fletcher was different than most of his probation-breaking cases, as he enjoyed steady employment, was married with a child on the way and had his own residence.
“Usually people like this live in their mother’s basement and get in trouble because they don’t do anything,” Fasano said. “Mr. Fletcher’s not like that. You can’t ignore these prior offenses, but those were the mark of someone who hasn’t quite grown up yet . . . This is a different Mr. Fletcher that appears here today.”
Prior to his sentencing, Fletcher apologized for his past transgressions and vowed to do better. “I’ve had a rough past,” he admitted, “but now I’m looking toward my future. I’m tired of running back and forth to court . . . I don’t want to lose my job . . . I just want to raise my family the right way.”
While Parker initially admitted he found Fletcher’s repeated violations “hard to understand” and said he was tempted to impose the whole 90 days, he ultimately relented. “The Commonwealth is going to wonder what on earth came over me,” Parker admitted, “and I don’t know why, but I’m tempted to give you a break here.”
Parker then reimposed 20 days of the 90-day sentence, and said he’d let Fletcher serve his time in the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail on weekends.
“You can report Friday [at 8 p.m.] and leave Sunday,” Parker said. “I’m giving you a whale of a break here.”
Heather Marie Kraft, 34, of Annandale, was tried in her absence and found guilty of reckless driving, and possessing expired tags and state registration. Goff said Kraft had informed the clerk’s office she wouldn’t be attending court because her grandmother was ill. This being her second consecutive absence, Goff asked to proceed without her; Parker agreed.
Virginia State Police trooper Brandon Johnson testified that he clocked Kraft going 80 mph on U.S. 211 on April 23, which is considered reckless driving and a felony. When he pulled Kraft over, Johnson said, he noticed the expired inspection stickers and cited her for those as well.
Parker then sentenced Kraft to $300 in fines — $250 for the reckless driving charge, and $50 each for the expired tags and inspection stickers.
Rebecca Sasiela, 22, of Sperryville, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after her vehicle was stopped by Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Deputy C. Lambert at about 8 p.m. last Thursday (Aug. 7) in Woodville. Kim Adriaan Burgers, 57, of Washington, was charged by Deputy Chris Koglin on Aug. 2 with DUI (his second in five years) and refusal to submit to a breath or blood test. Sasiela was released on recognizance and has a hearing in district court Sept. 9. Burgers remains in RSW Regional Jail awaiting an Oct. 21 court appearance.
On Aug. 3, following a domestic dispute, Deputy M. Dodson arrested 50-year-old Lloyd Timothy Freeman and charged him with being drunk in public and assault and battery against a family member.
After a traffic stop on Route 231 last Thursday (Aug. 7), Dodson also arrested Kenneth Boyd Shankle, 63, of Mt. Solon, on charges of driving while his license is suspended (his sixth offense), failure to have his vehicle inspected and operating an unregistered vehicle. Shankle, formerly of Sperryville, unsuccessfully sued the sheriff’s office, the court and others last year in federal district court, alleging that none of these authorities had jurisdiction to arrest or try him for driving-related charges. His hearing is Sept. 2.