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Conviction upheld in 2016 attack



A Lebanon woman who arranged a 2016 attack on a Claytor Lake resident will not be getting a new trial.

Virginia Court of Appeals Thursday issued a ruling upholding a Pulaski County jury’s conviction of Alicia Renee Mooney on charges of aggravated malicious wounding as a principal in the second degree, burglary as a principal in the second degree, and accessory after the fact to grand larceny. Mooney, then 36 years old, was sentenced to 51 years in prison.

In response to the ruling, Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor said, “We are very pleased to report that the Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions of Alicia Mooney who orchestrated the violent and brutal attack of a Claytor Lake woman. There were five issues raised on appeal and the Court of Appeals affirmed the Commonwealth in every respect.”

According to evidence in the September 2017 trial, Mooney drove her boyfriend and another man to a Claytor Lake woman’s home in 2016 to confront her with regards to a love triangle involving the lake woman, Mooney’s mother and a man they both had been dating.

Evidence showed Mooney’s boyfriend, Curtis Duggar (now deceased), and his friend, William Sherer, broke into the lake home, physically and sexually assaulted the victim, and stole some items.

Mooney argued in her appeal that the trial court was in error when it denied a defense motion to strike the aggravated malicious charge. She contends a principal in the second degree must have the “express” intent of the principal in the first degree (in this case Duggar and Sherer).

Mooney “contends that ‘merely providing assistance, by dropping off and picking up the two perpetrators, with no express conversation,’ was insufficient to prove that she shared their malicious intent,” the appeal court’s ruling states. “Appellant cites no authority, and we are aware of none, holding that the intent of a principal in the second degree can be proved only through direct evidence.”

The court said intent often is proved through circumstantial evidence. It added, “evidence proved that (Mooney) acted in concert with her accomplices to break into (the victim’s) home and to assault the occupants, offenses that led to (the victim’s) aggravated malicious wounding.”

The court points out Mooney was aware Duggar was physically violent because “six months earlier, he had ‘choked her out’ and threatened to ‘chop (her) up and put (her) all over the mountain …” The court also pointed out testimony showed Duggar told Mooney he didn’t want her to wait outside the victim’s home for him and Sherer because he was concerned for her safety, and that Sherer put on a pair of work gloves as he got out of Mooney’s car so he wouldn’t leave fingerprints and to protect his hands during the fight.

“Based upon the record, the evidence was sufficient to prove that (Mooney) knew that Duggar and Sherer intended to break into (the victim’s) home and to use physical violence to terminate the dispute between (the victim) and (Mooney’s) family,” the ruling states. “To prove that (Mooney) was a principal in the second degree in (the victim’s) aggravated malicious wounding, the Commonwealth was not required to prove that (Mooney) intended that Duggar and Sherer brutally assault (the victim).”

The court says the brutal assault was a “natural and probable consequence” of the original offenses.

Mooney also contends the jury’s verdict was “plainly wrong and without evidence to support it,” that the trial court erred in two respects with regard to instructions given to the jury, and that the court erred in sentencing by imposing an “arbitrary and excessive sentence.”

The appeals court found no evidence to support those claims.

As for the sentence, Mooney claims that the trial court “failed to consider her traumatic past” and exceeded recommended sentences under state sentencing guidelines.

The appeals court points out sentence guidelines are advisory, not binding. Since the sentences do not exceed limits set forth for the crimes in the state code, they are not excessive, the ruling says.

“Here, the trial court considered (Mooney’s) mitigating evidence, weighed it against (the) victim impact statement and testimony outlining her physical and psychological injuries from the offenses, and imposed sentences that fell within the statutory limits,” the appeals court ruled.

The ruling was based on the review by one judge of the Court of Appeals. Mooney has 14 days from the date of the ruling to request a review by a three-judge panel, but she must be able to show how the appeal court’s ruling is in error.

As a result of the Pulaski County convictions, a federal court sentenced Mooney in November to serve 23 months in federal prison for violating probation on a 2013 federal drug conviction.

Duggar never stood trial for his part in the local attack. He is alleged to have fatally shot himself when a Tennessee police officer tried to arrest him on charges stemming from the attack.

Sherer, who cooperated with the prosecution of Mooney, received a 10-year prison sentence.

Mooney is being held at Fluvanna Correctional Center. Her estimated release date is Aug. 9, 2060.

The identity of the victim is not being published due to the nature of the attack.



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