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Man punished for making threats

September 18, 1997

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

William Richard Stouffer will spend an additional year in jail for threatening two witnesses who testified at his brother's November murder trial.

Stouffer, 30, of Hagerstown, was sentenced Wednesday. He had been found guilty in Washington County Circuit Court in May on two counts of obstruction of justice. Each carried a possible five-year maximum sentence.

While acknowledging that the criminal justice system can't be effective without witnesses testifying freely, Judge Darrow Glaser said Wednesday that Stouffer's intimidation didn't prevent that.

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Noting no weapon was used and the threats were made in public both times, Glaser said the case didn't call for the maximum penalty.

He sentenced Stouffer to four years on each count and ordered they be served concurrently. Two years of the sentence were suspended, and he was given credit for a year already spent in jail. That leaves him with one year to serve.

It took the jury one hour last May to reach a verdict finding that Stouffer obstructed justice by threatening Tina Murray Desjardins during the trial of Edward Stouffer Oct. 28-Nov. 4, 1996.

They also found that William Stouffer obstructed justice by threatening Robert Schell after the trial.

A not guilty verdict was returned on the only other count, obstruction of justice by threatening Desjardins after the trial.

William Stouffer said Wednesday he realized what he did was wrong. But in May, he downplayed his guilt.

"It was a big misunderstanding," William Stouffer said at the trial. "I didn't mean nothing."

Witnesses who heard William Stouffer threatening Schell and Desjardins testified at that trial.

"Your time is coming," Willie Stouffer was heard to shout to Schell on the street, testimony revealed.

Both Schell and Desjardins testified they were afraid of William Stouffer and believed his threats.

William Stouffer's criminal record included thefts, credit card offenses, and a number of occasions when he failed to appear for court.

Edward Stouffer, 27, was convicted Nov. 4 of felony murder and kidnapping in the 1989 death of Jeffrey Fiddler. He was sentenced to life in prison.

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