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Sentencing delayed in civil rights case

August 09, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
  • Kendra N. Sulick
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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A Falling Waters, W.Va., woman who was found guilty in June of violating her former neighbors' civil rights will not be sentenced until a psychological evaluation is completed.

Kendra N. Sulick, 39, who has been incarcerated since a jury found her guilty of three felony counts of civil rights evaluations, was denied a new trial Monday in a scheduled post-trial motions/sentencing hearing.

"I was not aware of some issues that were brought up in the presentence (investigation)," 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes said in announcing his decision to defer sentencing.

Sulick, who was remanded to the state Division of Corrections after the hearing, was found not guilty of six additional counts of violating a black family's civil rights.

For each conviction, Wilkes could fine Sulick or give her up to 10 years in prison.

During the hearing Monday, the judge also denied defense attorney Christopher Prezioso's postverdict motion for judgment of acquittal.

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After hearing arguments from Prezioso and Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Quasebarth, Wilkes conceded that the criminal statute applied in the case was "inartfully drafted" and encouraged state lawmakers to revisit the law.

Wilkes said he also felt the jury seated for Sulick's trial did a good job of delineating the evidence to reach their decision and did not feel there was any misconduct on their part.

Sulick and co-defendant Bruce A. Poole resided at 45 Wisconsin Lane when they were charged with violating the civil rights of the family of Brian Smith and Betty A. Obiri between December 2007 and April 2009.

Poole's trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 16.

Poole, like Sulick, is accused of repeatedly harassing the family by shouting racial slurs at them, making loud noises at all hours of the night, driving recklessly near their home and threatening to harm them, according to court records.

Courtroom security was heightened for Monday's hearing and the gallery of Wilkes' courtroom was full. There were no apparent disruptions during the hearing, which was attended by Poole and the victims in the case.

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