EPHRATA — A Moses Lake woman whose case was remanded back to Grant County for re-sentencing by the Washington Supreme Court received an identical sentence in her re-sentencing proceedings. She had been sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison in connection with a 2014 burglary.
Cecily McFarland, 28, pleaded guilty in Grant County Superior Court to first-degree burglary, first-degree trafficking in stolen property, 10 counts of firearm theft and three counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. The sentencing reflects her role as an accomplice in the events surrounding the burglary and firearm theft charges.
The trafficking stolen property charge was dismissed in a plea agreement between Deputy Prosecutor Katharine Mathews and defense attorney Michael Morgan. The burglary charge carried with it a standard sentencing range of 31-41 months. The theft of a firearm carried standard ranges of 21-27 months and the unlawful firearm charges had standard ranges of 9-12 months.
Judge John Knodell sentenced McFarland to 36 months on the burglary count, 21 months on each of the theft of a firearm counts and 9 months on each of the unlawful gun possession counts. Knodell ordered the theft of a firearm and unlawful gun possession sentences to run consecutively to each other and concurrently with the burglary sentence, bringing McFarland’s total time of prison confinement to just under 20 years.
McFarland was initially convicted of the same crimes back in 2014 after she and her boyfriend stole guns, alcohol and electronics from a garage. She rejected a plea deal that would have given her 3.5 years in prison and was sentenced to almost 20 years in prison by Knodell. McFarland appealed the sentence, arguing Knodell failed to recognize his discretion when imposing the firearms sentences. The Washington Court of Appeals, Division 3, ruled against McFarland and the case was brought to the Washington Supreme Court.
The supreme court remanded the case back to Grant County for re-sentencing, stating there is a possibility Knodell could have imposed concurrent, as opposed to consecutive, gun-related sentences if he “properly” understood his discretion to impose what is called an “exceptional sentence.”
In a letter Knodell submitted to the involved attorneys the judge again declined to impose an exceptional sentence. He states the legislature allows the prosecutor to treat the simultaneous theft of several firearms as distinct, separate crimes.
“The defendant has not supplied any authority for the proposition that this court may somehow 'overrule' the prosecutor’s decision to charge the multiple thefts as individual crimes, or to file all available counts,” wrote Knodell. “In this case, the theft or possession of stolen firearms and possible distribution of 12 firearms, to up to 12 unknown persons, presents a far greater risk to society that the theft of a single firearm.”
Knodell admits that the sentence of almost 20 years is excessive, but he says it is that way because of the “charging decision the prosecution made in this case.”