The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Waterman gets break from judge
A Westmoreland County waterman will soon be released from jail after being sentenced on three felony convictions.
Clarence William “Juice” McKenney, 67, was sentenced to 15 years in prison with all but 14 months suspended in Westmoreland Circuit Court on Friday.
McKenney was convicted in July of felonious assault on a law enforcement officer, unauthorized use of a vehicle and felony eluding for an Aug. 17, 2011 incident where he waved a gun at a deputy sheriff and drove around in his patrol car.
He has been incarcerated at the Northern Neck Regional Jail since his arrest last year and is just days short of his 14-month sentence.
“I offer no excuses. It’s my fault,” said McKenney, who suffers from chronic pain due to cancer, heart disease and arthritis. “When you have cancer, it’s like it changes your perception on everything. Unless you have it, you just don’t know. You can’t tell me what it’s like.”
McKenney’s attorneys, Craig Cooley and James Breeden, admitted that alcohol and prescription drug abuse played a role in his actions that day, but noted that he completed a 16-week substance-abuse class while incarcerated.
Even Sen. Richard Stuart of Stafford County, a former Commonwealth’s Attorney in Westmoreland, testified on McKenney’s behalf.
“I was shocked because it was completely out of character for the Juice that I know and have known all my life,” Stuart said.
He noted how McKenney took on the role of caretaker for both of his dying parents alone while also dealing with his own illness.
“He was in a lot of pain and it’s obvious when you look at him,” Stuart said. “A toxic cocktail [of prescription drugs and alcohol] had to be what was behind it.”
Judge Joseph E. Spruill Jr. said he took McKenney’s age, poor health, good reputation and six years of military service into consideration before handing down his sentence.
Westmoreland Commonwealth’s Attorney Julia Sicholl argued that these charges called for a longer sentence.
“Up until this point he has done a lot of good in his life,” she said. “But we’re talking about a situation where Mr. McKenney held a loaded gun at an officer and threatened to kill him.”
The judge granted her request to have McKenney forfeit the three guns that were used in the crime and remove all of his other guns from his home and be randomly searched and drug tested.
The judge also ruled that he could use but not abuse prescription drugs and McKenney voluntarily agreed to no longer consume alcohol, against advice from his attorneys.
About 7:40 p.m. on Aug. 17, 2011, Westmoreland Deputy Antwan Smith got a call about an orange Chevrolet Camaro being driven recklessly along State Route 202 in the Mount Holly area. Smith chased the car about a mile to a home on Fisherman’s Lane, where McKenney resides alone.
Smith said the driver got out of the car and advanced on his patrol car, even after the deputy advised him to return to his vehicle.
“He said: ‘Go ahead and shoot me. I’ll [expletive] kill you,’” Smith told the judge.
Smith said he kept backing away with his gun drawn and eventually took cover in a wooded area nearby. Smith said the man then went into the house and came out with a gun.
“He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun,” Smith was heard saying on the recorded dispatch call.
A male voice, identified in court as McKenney’s, was recorded saying: “Boy, you in my world now. Don’t you run from me. I’ll blow your [expletive] head off. You’re [expletive] with the wrong one.”
Smith said he saw a white vehicle pull up next door. He said he advised the occupants to leave the area and to call the dispatch center and tell them he was safe.
Moments later, Smith said, McKenney got into his patrol vehicle with the lights still flashing and drove up the long driveway.
Deputy Charles Bowles testified that he had unsuccessfully attempted to stop McKenney, who drove the patrol car toward him but then turned back around.
A dispatcher, Billy Taylor, was trying to talk to McKenney through the patrol car radio to calm him down. A voice identified as McKenney’s responded: “Billy, I got your [expletive] car.
“Tell your boy to back the [expletive] off. Boys wanna play,” he continued to say over the radio. “What the hell did I do, Billy? I’ve been through enough in the last seven years. I ain’t going to jail.”
A dispatcher called Westmoreland Sheriff C.O. Balderson and made him aware of what was going on with “Juice,” whom he has known for a long time.
When Balderson was on his way to the scene, he heard McKenney address him over the patrol-car radio.
Balderson was able to reach McKenney by cellphone, and told him he had to go to jail.
“I’m not going to jail,” McKenney said before a short pause, Balderson testified.
After a brief conversation, Balderson, dressed in a T–shirt, shorts and tennis shoes, walked up the driveway without a weapon and arrested McKenney without further incident.
Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419