A Hillsboro man with several probation violations since the inception of his case in 2011 was sentenced to prison Thursday, while another defendant was given another chance by the court for his probation violations.
Matthew S. Fahnestock, 28, admitted to failing to appear at a municipal hearing, failing to report, using opiates, and not completing STAR aftercare.
According to court records, Fahnestock was indicted in July 2011 and was initially granted intervention in lieu of conviction, but that was terminated the following year. He was sentenced to three years community control on a fifth-degree felony drug charge in February 2013. He was also ordered to complete the STAR program. Three times throughout the course of the case, warrants have been issued for Fahnestock’s arrest because of his whereabouts being unknown.
Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins recommended 11 months in prison. She cited the history of the case and the defendant’s violations and added that he’s continued to use and he’s had no contact with probation since November 2013.
Judge Rocky Coss also reiterated the course of the case and noted to the defendant that at the last hearing he had made a note on the file that read “last chance.” “Your history of supervision has been,” the judge said, “poor,” and also cited the defendant’s repeated “disregard” for the orders of the court and the terms of his supervision.
Coss sentenced Fahnestock to 12 months in prison, the maximum allowable sentence for the offense.
Fahnestock has 133 days of jail-time credit.
In another hearing, Justin L. McMullen, 30, was given another chance by Coss on Thursday after the judge found McMullen had violated the terms of his supervision.
McMullen was sentenced to 24 months in prison in July 2012 for third-degree felony having weapons while under disability. He was granted judicial release last August. A previous motion for judicial release last March was denied.
Adult Parole Authority (APA) officer Sheri Barton testified in the evidentiary hearing that McMullen has only reported to APA one time since his August 2013 release from prison. Barton said she had to track him down once to a nursing home.
But on the stand, McMullen said that was because he has been battling medical issues and has been in and out of hospitals and nursing homes since his release. According to McMullen, his illness persists. While in the hospital at one point, he said he had a friend call the APA because he had endured surgery and it was difficult for him to talk.
While he said he was trying to do everything he was supposed to do, he admitted that he would rather go back to prison and finish his term than stay on probation, which he can’t seem to keep up with, he said. He said he wants to be able to move forward and put this behind him.
But Collins pointed out that if McMullen was doing everything he was supposed to do, he would be reporting to APA. The prosecutor also asked McMullen if he had provided any sort of documentation to the APA in regard to his ongoing illness and the medications he is taking. He said he had not.
Collins told the court that based solely on the fact that McMullen had not reported, he was in violation of his community control. She said she understood that there was illness involved and that probation is stressful, but she added probation wasn’t supposed to be easy either.
Defense attorney Kathryn Hapner said she disagreed with most all of what Collins had to say, pointing out that her client had spoken with the APA more than once and that when McMullen found out there was an active warrant out for his arrest, he turned himself in.
She said the reason the situation was stressful to her client was because he was “juggling” his medical issues with reporting.
But Collins said “juggling” implied that the defendant was both reporting to the APA and attending to his medical needs, but he is not.
The judge said he “was not inclined to revoke” McMullen’s community control based on the one violation, but he doesn’t like his attitude.
Coss told McMullen that the stress of his situation is “self-imposed” because McMullen is the one that petitioned the court, twice, for early release.
“You’re a criminal that owes a debt to society,” Coss said, telling McMullen that he was supposed to do what he was told and that was “not up for debate.”
The judge asked McMullen what it would be, another shot on community control or finishing the remainder of his prison term?
The defendant chose probation and the judge told him this was the “last chance,” that seeing him in the courtroom again would equal prison. McMullen was also ordered to bring all medical documentation concerning his illness and his medications to the APA.
In other proceedings, Jennifer M. Anderson, 25, was found guilty of fifth-degree felony receiving stolen property after she was terminated from the prosecutor’s diversion program.
She will be sentenced next month following the completion of a presentence investigation.
Sarah L. Tomer, 28, of Greenfield, was admitted into the diversion program. Her plea of guilty to fifth-degree felony possession of heroin will be stayed as long as she is successful in the program.
Similarly, Maria K. Trefz, 31, was admitted into the diversion program. Her plea of guilty to fifth-degree felony receiving stolen property will be stayed as long as she is successful in the program.
Angela Shepherd can be reached at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @ashepherdHTG.