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Woman pleads guilty to role in standoff

January 29, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- The woman police say posed as a hostage in a standoff at a Hancock hotel in August 2008 pleaded guilty Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court to conspiring to threaten arson.

Rene Reynolds, 21, of Moncks Corner, S.C., faced additional charges, including theft of more than $500, that were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Her boyfriend, James A. Prevatt, is charged with threatening arson by use of an explosive device and other crimes in connection with the 45-hour standoff with police at a Hancock motel, during which he told officers he would kill a hostage. The standoff began the evening of Aug. 20, 2008, when police went to Prevatt's room at the Americas Best Value Inn to serve a warrant.

A man inside the room denied them entry and said he had guns and a hostage, police and prosecutors have said.

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Police have said Reynolds was "complicit" during the hostage situation, depicting herself as a hostage.

She was several months pregnant at the time of the incident and was due to deliver Sept. 1. At an October 2008 court date, Prevatt's parents held a baby as they spoke with their son's attorney.

Reynolds on Thursday morning quietly answered "yes, your honor" while questioned by Judge Frederick C. Wright III.

Reynolds told police she was not a victim of kidnapping and wasn't held hostage, Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson told the judge Thursday. She helped tie a sheet around her mouth, and she held her hands behind her back to appear "bound" to negotiators during the standoff, court documents said.

Reynolds, who said she finished 11 years of school, has earned her GED while at the Washington County Detention Center, defense attorney Mary Drawbaugh said Thursday.

Conviction of the charge to which Reynolds pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Wright ordered a presentence investigation to learn more about her background before he sentences her. Wilson said Reynolds has no criminal record.

Reynolds is scheduled to appear Tuesday in Washington County District Court on unrelated burglary charges.

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