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January 27, 2021

No jail for woman who shot car in her Warrenton yard

Nancy Blough must pay a $1,000 fine, surrender her .38-caliber revolver and forfeit her concealed gun permit.
I think Mrs. Blough has learned from what she’s done. I don’t expect her to repeat this behavior, nor do I think making her a felon at her age would have made our community any safer.
— Commonwealth’s Attorney Scott C. Hook
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Pleading guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge, the Warrenton senior citizen dodged a bullet in Fauquier County General District Court on Wednesday.

Town police on Nov. 29 charged Nancy Sames Blough, 75, with firing at a vehicle that she claims struck a car in the driveway of her home at 186 Brittany Lane and then left through a neighbor’s yard.

The night of her arrest, Mrs. Blough watched the incident unfold from her bedroom window, grabbed a .38-caliber Taurus revolver, went to the front door and squeezed off three shots, according to the investigation.

One pierced the passenger side door of the intruding vehicle; investigators couldn’t find the two rounds that missed her target. Nobody got injured.

Police charged Mrs. Blough with a felony count of unlawful discharge of a firearm into an occupied vehicle and a misdemeanor count of reckless discharge of a firearm.

The felony charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years behind bars and a maximum $2,500 fine.

The misdemeanor charge carries a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

To avoid the possibility of serious jail time, Mrs. Blough on Wednesday pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge and the Fauquier commonwealth’s attorney dropped the felony count.

As part of the plea agreement, chief prosecutor Scott C. Hook recommended that substitute Judge Sean A. Sherlock sentence the defendant to 30 days in jail and suspend that time as well as impose and suspend a $1,000 fine.

Judge Sherlock did just that.

Moments later, Mrs. Blough left the courtroom a free woman.

By law, she had to surrender the revolver and forfeit her concealed gun permit.

Warrenton defense attorney Mark B. Williams, who represents Mrs. Blough, believes he could have made a “viable” self-defense argument on his client’s behalf.

But for various practical reasons, Mrs. Blough agreed to plead guilty to the misdemeanor, the lawyer said.

Mrs. Blough’s age, the cost of a trial and the unpredictable consequences of placing the case in the hands of a jury influenced her decision, Mr. Williams explained in an interview.

“Any time you get an offer of a misdemeanor and suspended jail time — when you’re looking a felony conviction and 10 years in prison — you’ve got to seriously consider taking that,” the lawyer said.

The guilty plea provides Mrs. Blough peace of mind, he suggested.

“She has finality, and she can get on with her life and not have to deal with the stress of a pending felony trial,” Mr. Williams said. “She just wants to put this behind her, and I can’t blame her.”

Mr. Hook would like to think that the sentence sends a strong message to the community.

“I hope this makes it clear that deadly force is never acceptable to protect your personal property,” Mr. Hook said in an interview. “And further, I think Mrs. Blough has learned from what she’s done. I don’t expect her to repeat this behavior, nor do I think making her a felon at her age would have made our community any safer.”

At 11:24 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, officers “responded to a report of shots fired” at Mrs. Blough’s home, according to town police.

That night, “the suspected occupant of the vehicle was located nearby and charged with being intoxicated in public,” the investigation showed.

But Mrs. Blough’s taking matters into her own hands thwarted the investigation, Mr. Hook said.

“Unfortunately, because of Mrs. Blough’s actions, we were unable to prove that the person we found next to the vehicle was actually the driver,” the commonwealth’s attorney said. “So therefore we could not charge her with DUI, nor the destruction of property.”

Mr. Hook added: “We can’t prove she was driving that evening. All we can prove is she owns the car and that she’s drunk. She makes zero statements, and Mrs. Blough says I don’t know if there’s one person in the car or six.”

Prepaying a $25 fine plus $101 in administrative costs, the alleged driver didn’t contest the drunk-in-public misdemeanor charge.

Had Mrs. Blough called 911 rather than fire her gun, police probably would have arrived at the crime scene to place charges against the driver, the prosecutor said.

Mr. Hook has simple advice for others facing a similar predicament.

“Call the cops, instead of grabbing a gun.”

Contact Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-0300.
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Tony Bentley · January 28, 2021 at 9:48 am
Demosthemes - i.e. worn out record.
FalconDad · January 27, 2021 at 9:02 pm
If it was a hit-and-run “the person found next to the vehicle” would have been charged. If there were three people next to the car and no one person admits to driving, they are all charged. That’s how it works. The “driver” must know or be someone associated with the Town. That’s the free pass around here.
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