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Woman convicted of Macing store officer

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A woman who twice sprayed Mace into the face of a store security officer who had caught her shoplifting faces more than 11 years in prison.

Sheila Juanita Somerville, 37, of Fredericksburg was convicted in Fredericksburg Circuit Court Thursday of two counts of maliciously releasing a nauseating gas and one count of soliciting someone else to do so.

A jury recommended that she serve 11 1/2 years in prison. Somerville had already pleaded guilty to felony shoplifting before the trial.

The charge involving the nauseating gas is a Class 3 felony that carries a penalty of between five and 20 years in prison. The jury gave Somerville the minimum sentences on those charges.

Somerville will be formally sentenced on Feb. 14. Judge William H. Ledbetter Jr. can reduce the sentence if he chooses.

According to the evidence presented by city prosecutors Reid Schweitzer and Jeff Adams, Somerville and another woman were in the Rugged Warehouse on Plank Road Aug. 13 when Somerville was spotted stuffing items under her shirt and into her purse.

When a store loss-prevention officer approached her in the parking lot, she sprayed Mace in his face and ran farther into the lot. The store officer caught up with her and during the ensuing struggle she sprayed him again.

Another employee had arrived to assist when Somerville yelled to the woman with her, “Spray him again! Spray him again!” The Mace was knocked out of the other woman’s hand as she was spraying it.

The other woman, Kendra Nicole Brooks of Dameron, Md., was indicted this week on charges of malicious use of a toxic gas and assault with a caustic substance. Her trial date has not been set.

Attorney Christopher Reyes is representing Somerville, whose criminal record includes numerous theft-related charges dating back to 1995.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404


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