2012-12-12 / Front Page

Maryland Woman Gets Jail Time For Shooting Boyfriend

Sarah Sipes sentenced for aggravated assault
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Sarah Sipes Sarah Sipes NEWS EDITOR

A Hancock, Md., woman accused of shooting her boyfriend in the groin area while she was drunk and pregnant stood before Fulton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Shawn Meyers on Tuesday for sentencing on one count of aggravated assault.

Also on hand for the December 11 sentencing proceeding for 26-year-old Sarah Lynn Sipes was the shooting victim, John Garland of Mc- Connellsburg. Taking several moments to address the court, Garland said both he and his son, who was an eyewitness to the shooting, feel 100 percent certain the incident on January 7 at 15834 Great Cove Road was an “accident.” “It (the gun) was being lowered when it went off,” he stated.

Garland said had his son felt Sipes had meant to fatally harm him, he wouldn’t have allowed her to hold a tourniquet in place while checking for the arrival of emergency medical services.

“They both saved my life,” said Garland of his son and Sipes. He went on to say that things got out of hand that particular night, and since then neither he nor Sipes have consumed alcohol even though they’ve battled a drinking problem since they were juveniles.

He referenced her motherly instincts in caring for their soonto be 8-month-old son. “She’s the best person I could ever ask for,” he added in stating that supervised probation, and not jail time, would allow them to stay together as a family.

“I beg you. Please don’t give her any more time than she has already had,” said Garland.

Fulton County Public Defender Dwight Harvey referred to the case as being “highly unusual” and he has never seen anything like it in 27 years of practicing law. He mentioned the victim is the individual who introduced the deadly weapon to the situation as well as multiple kitchen knives. “He unlocked the cabinet, loaded the gun and handed it to her,” Harvey said.

Harvey referenced alcoholism and underlying psychiatric issues that have undoubtedly led to self-destructive behavior. Sipes in turn said the incident has been life changing and she is now a better person because of it. She stated her whole life now revolves around their son instead of alcohol.

“Doesn’t the community at large need to understand there are consequences for actions,” asked Judge Meyers, who pointed out Sipes could have refused to handle the gun and pushed it away. Harvey responded the case was not appropriate as a “harsh example” for the community.

The judge commented it was “perplexing” to the court how Sipes consistently acted recklessly for such a long period of time. He also referencing Garland’s perspective in the case as being perplexing.

“The oddity here is that he’s not here to be punished... . He had as much of a hand in this as you do,” Meyers told Sipes.

Sipes was sentenced to between 11-1/2 months and 23 months in the Franklin County Prison and was granted credit for the 100 days she was incarcerated immediately following the shooting. She will be paroled on approval of a home plan and will then complete 96 months probation.

In addition to completing a mental health evaluation, she will also undergo a drug and alcohol assessment and treatment if necessary. Sipes may also not possess, own or transfer a firearm. Restitution is owed to a variety of organizations including Fulton County Medical Center, Fulton County, Pennsylvania State Police, the Victim Compensation Fund and Department of Public Welfare. It is anticipated Harvey will be filing a motion opposing restitution owed to the hospital and Department of Public Welfare.

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