Berryville resident Stephaney Scott pleaded “guilty” to two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor this morning. Scott appeared before Clarke County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Ronald Napier. Scott’s attorney, Robert Vernail of Leesburg, was also present.
Judge Napier sentenced Scott on the first charge, criminal complaint #236201, to 365 days in jail with 351 days of the sentence suspended. Napier also fined Scott $2500 with $1500 of the amount suspended. Napier continued the disposition of sentencing on Scotts’s second charge, criminal complaint #236202, pending the outcome of 12 months of unsupervised probation.
In a plea deal worked out by Clarke County Commonwealth Attorney Suzanne “Suni” Perka, Stephaney Scott will serve a jail sentence and also serve twelve months of unsupervised probation. Part of Scott’s probation includes no underage alcohol consumption in her home by any person, including Scott’s children.
“Given the facts and the circumstances and that she condoned the underage consumption of alcohol I believe the outcome is fair” said Perka. “There will be opinions that the sentence is too harsh and opinions that the sentence is too lenient but given Aaron Shirley’s death I believe that this is a fair result.”
Perka also shed light on the events that occurred immediately prior to the tragic accident that claimed the life of 17-year-old Aaron Shirley on June 18th, 2010.
According to Perka, the driver of the vehicle, Amir Banks, stopped by Stephaney Scott’s Treadwell Street home just prior to the accident. Banks allegedly spent a short amount of time at Scott’s house where he picked up several minor females before driving his pickup truck north of Berryville to meet Aaron Shirley.
Perka said that the accident occurred immediately after Banks left Scott’s home but there was no evidence that Banks received alcohol at Scott’s residence or that Scott necessarily knew what was going on between the young people that evening.
“The kids appear to have been in the garage and Ms. Scott was in the house” Perka said.
However, Stephaney Scott’s lawyer disagreed with Perka’s statement.
“Ms. Scott was not at home that night” said Scott’s attorney Robert Vernail. Vernail also said that it was a shame that the death of Aaron Shirley and Ms. Scott’s arrest had been conflated together.
“It’s a disservice to Ms. Scott” Vernail said.
Vernail said that although Scott had admitted to making an error in judgment about how to deal with underage drinking and will now serve the consequences, there are many levels of responsibility when it comes to teen drinking.
“The first level of responsibility lies with the teen drinkers themselves. Any teen who goes to a drinking party knows that it is wrong and that it is dangerous. The next level of responsibility lies with the parents of the teens who should know where their child is going, who their child’s friends are and to enforce curfews.”
But Suni Perka offered a differing view.
“There is no direct evidence linking Ms. Scott to the death of Aaron Shirley” Perka said. “But in the broader picture, people in the community that provided alcohol to the teens when their parents didn’t know about it did contribute to the death of Aaron. I think that’s fair to say.”
“Maybe some people in our community think that it’s OK to provide alcohol to underage kids” Perka said. “The problem is that you don’t ever have control over all of the kids that may get involved and you then run the risk of a kid leaving your home and possibly killing someone. There is no linkage between Aaron Shirley’s death and Stephaney Scott but it’s easy to imagine how this happened.”
Perka said that pictures retrieved from Facebook showed underage drinking occurred at Scott’s residence.
As for where the minors involved in the June 18th incident actually obtained the alcohol that contributed to the accident, Perka said that an on-going investigation is still active in the matter.
“We’re still looking at other issues” Perka said. “Manslaughter charges are unlikely but we’re not done yet.”
In continuing the disposition of sentencing on Scotts’s second charge, pending the outcome of 12 months of unsupervised probation, Judge Napier left open the possibility of additional penalties in the event that Scott does not observe the conditions of her parole. The second charge will automatically lapse on February 10, 2012 without a court appearance by Scott if she does not violate the conditions of her parole.
Scott will begin serving her jail sentence on February 13th at 8:00pm.