DOBSON – A plea hearing this week closed the book on a barroom brawl but failed to answer an age-old question: who started it?
There was no dispute in court over several aspects of the felony assault case.
The defendant, Olivia Ramirez-Hernandez, and the victim, Jessica Ferguson, had gotten into a fight.
The scuffle occurred in the early morning hours Dec. 2, 2012, at Cumbia Mix, a West Pine Street nightclub, and ended with Ramirez-Hernandez striking Ferguson with a beer bottle.
Ferguson was treated for a cut on her neck with stitches at Northern Hospital of Surry County, where the Mount Airy Police Department became involved.
Ramirez-Hernandez, 48, of Gatehouse Lane, Dobson, came to the station voluntarily soon after and was eventually charged with assault with a deadly weapon causing serious injury, which is a class E felony.
Assistant District Attorney Quentin Harris relayed both party’s police statements to Presiding Judge Eric Morgan during the Superior Court hearing Thursday.
According to the victim: Ramierez-Hernandez, whom she had never met before, had walked up to Ferguson’s boyfriend and pushed him. He pushed her back. Furguson came between them. Ramirez-Hernandez started hitting Ferguson, and the last thing the victim remembered was Ramirez-Hernandez moving a beer bottle toward her in a stabbing motion.
According to the defendant: Ramirez-Hernandez was hit from behind and fell into a table. She wound up on the floor getting punched and kicked by Ferguson, whom she had never met before. Ramirez-Hernandez got the bottle to defend herself.
“The investigation couldn’t yield any truly disinterested witnesses,” to corroborate either of the competing stories, Harris stated.
“The defendant took things to the next level by cutting the victim with a bottle.”
Defense Attorney Andrew Brown indicated that his client had been cooperative with law enforcement throughout.
“Her story has been that the victim is the aggressor,” but with a jury potentially having to both decide which story they believe and if Ramirez-Hernandez was justified in the escalation, she decided to take the state’s deal of a lesser charge for a guilty plea.
Brown also noted that his client had been attempting to obtain legal status in the United States for 20 years and was aware that the plea could jeopardize that effort.
The court accepted Ramirez-Hernandez’s plea of no contest to misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon.
She was given a suspended sentence of 75 days, placed on supervised probation for 18 months and ordered to complete 24 hours of community service within 60 days.
The defendant was also ordered to have no contact with the victim.
Other matters of the court addressed this term included:
• Wayne Everette Combs Jr., 32, of Bethany Ford Road, Roaring River, pleaded guilty to one count of obtaining property by false pretense on July 5.
He was given a suspended sentence of eight to 19 months and placed on supervised probation for 30 months, to be served at the expiration of his current Wilkes County probationary sentence. Additionally, Combs was ordered to pay $1,050 total restitution to two victims.
The state dismissed several charges against Comb in exchange for the plea: conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense, two counts of breaking and/or entering, larceny after breaking and/or entering, felony possession of stolen goods or property.
• On July 6, Shaun Meredith Gibbs, 28, of Elk Spur Street, Elkin, was given a conditional discharge for first offense. N.C. General Statute 90-96 mandates that a discharge be given to defendants with charges meeting specific criteria that include no prior felony or drug convictions.
Pending her successful completion of a supervised probationary period, the court will discharge Gibbs from one count each of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance on prison or jail premises.
The state dismissed misdemeanor charges of shoplifting by concealment of goods, two counts of second-degree trespassing and injury to real property, as well as several traffic infractions.
• A Mount Airy man pleaded guilty to 27 total violations ranging in severity from motor vehicle violations to class H felonies.
Through a plea agreement, the charges against Brandon Wilson Key, 28, of Hamburg Street, were consolidated for judgment to two counts of felony breaking and or entering.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of breaking and or entering; two counts of larceny after breaking and or entering; six counts of misdemeanor larceny; three counts of misdemeanor possession of stolen goods or property; two counts of second-degree trespassing; two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia; simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance; shoplifting by concealment; providing fictitious information to an officer; resisting a public officer; possession of marijuana paraphernalia and five motor vehicle violations.
Key was sentenced to two eight- to 19-month terms of imprisonment, which were suspended pending the successful completion of 30 months of supervised probation. The sentences are to be served consecutively, the first including credit for 90 days served pre-trial.
• Jessica Nicole Wolfe, 31, of Mill Hole Road, North Wilkesboro, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny through a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s office. An initial charge of obtaining property by false pretense, a class H felony, was dismissed. Wolfe was given an active sentence of 45 days with 45 days credited for time served. She was also ordered to pay restitution of $213.97.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.