A baseball-bat-wielding woman who smashed the York County SPCA's glass front door last summer while apparently trying to rescue her "kidnapped" niece — which turned out to be her cousin's dog — has avoided prison.
Cindy May O'Ferrell, 39, of Dale City, Va., pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony count of criminal trespass; in exchange, a charge of burglary was dismissed.
"She's deeply remorseful," public defender Ron Jackson Jr. said. "She knows what she did was wrong. She went about it the wrong way."
As part of a negotiated plea agreement, O'Ferrell was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $551 in restitution to the Emigsville animal shelter. She also was ordered to undergo a mental-health evaluation and a drug and alcohol evaluation, records state.
The focus of the plea agreement was to ensure any mental-health issues O'Ferrell might have are properly dealt with, senior deputy prosecutor Kelley Nelson said.
The York County SPCA supported the plea agreement, Nelson said.
The fracas: O'Ferrell went to the 3159 Susquehanna Trail shelter about 6 p.m. Aug. 10, smashed the glass door with an aluminum baseball bat and went inside. The shelter was closed at the time, although staffers were in the back of the facility, caring for animals, court documents state.
"At first she was saying we kidnapped her cousin's baby," SPCA Executive Director Melissa Smith has said.
Staffers quickly realized O'Ferrell was talking about her cousin's dog, Molly, whom the cousin had previously signed over to the shelter and who had been placed in a foster home, officials said.
When Northern York County Regional police officers arrived, staff members had managed to get O'Ferrell outside, but she was still screaming that her niece had been kidnapped.
Wrestled with cops: Two officers had to wrestle her to the ground, court documents state.
"Quite honestly, this woman was out of her mind," Smith said at the time.
Police noted in charging documents that O'Ferrell "appeared to be somewhat mentally unstable due to her constant babbling about the animals needing to have oxygen and needing to be set free from the SPCA."
Smith called it ironic that the shelter had to take in O'Ferrell's dog, which she'd left in her car during the incident.
O'Ferrell's cousin later picked up the dog, Smith has said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.