2011-10-13 / Front Page

Keefer Gets Probation In Firearms Case

Family of the late Tina Souders upset over sentence
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Wearing purple ribbons in remembrance of their loved one, the extended family of the late Tina Souders sat patiently in the courtroom Tuesday awaiting a sentence to be imposed in the case of Warfordsburg area resident Carol Sue Keefer.

Keefer was initially charged with 14 counts of a person to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms; five counts of unsworn falsification to authorities; and one count of the sale or transfer of firearms. In August, she entered a plea of guilty to two counts of a person not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer a firearm, which carried a maximum penalty of 10 years incarceration and $20,000 in fines.

Given the opportunity to speak during the October 11 sentencing, Keefer, of 2663 Mountain Road, admitted she “trusted her brother,” the late Ricky Hann.

Keefer previously testified in court that she signed an “affidavit of safekeeping” after a protectionfrom abuse (PFA) order was issued against her brother by Souders in September 2010. Until the provisions of the PFA were lifted or the order expired, Hann was unable to possess a weapon and therefore the guns would remain in his sister’s possession. A total of seven guns were listed on the document. The guns were taken to Keefer’s home in Belfast Township for “safekeeping” in an unlocked bedroom.

Two of those guns listed on the affidavit of safekeeping were later found in Hann’s possession during the investigation of a homicidesuicide by Pennsylvania State Police at the McConnellsburg barracks. During the course of the police investigation, officials determined Souders was fatally wounded with a Winchester 12- gauge shotgun carried by Hann, who in turn committed suicide.

The shooting happened in a wooded area behind the victim’s McConnellsburg home nearly 12 hours after Hann was bailed out of jail for holding his ex-girlfriend, Souders, against her will with a sawed-off shotgun.

Both Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall and defense attorney Eric Weisbord informed Fulton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Shawn Meyers on Tuesday they supported the recommendation of the probation department for a sentence of 36 months probation. Caught off guard about the possible probationary sentence, several members of Souders’ extended family exchanged shocked glances across the courtroom.

“I have to say looking at your case, the court has to look at the impact of the sentence imposed specifically as it applies to you, the criminal defendant in this case,” Judge Meyers told Keefer. “Looking at your history and your personality, the court thinks probation as recommended is appropriate. The question the court has is what would this sentence say to the community at large?”

Meyers went on to tell Keefer about the diligence that should have been displayed in signing the paperwork as well as in keeping the weapons safe and out of her brother’s possession. He further noted that “ignorance is not a defense or an excuse” and pointed out Hann did not commit a crime or break into her home in order to possess the guns.

Meeting briefly with counsel, the judge returned to say the court was fully aware of the sad and devastating consequences involving Hann’s actions. “You’re not your brother’s keeper,” said Meyers, who added, however, in a legal capacity she was a keeper of his possessions.

In announcing he would be sentencing Keefer to probation under the terms of the recommendation, the Souders family stormed from the courtroom, banging doors along the way. Sheriff deputies quickly followed the group to try and regain order.

The judge went on to sentence Keefer to a total of 36 months probation. She was also ordered to pay a $25 monthly supervision fee and $75 to Scott’s Auto Body for towing. Keefer will also be unable to own, possess or transfer a firearm.

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