Jennifer R. McDonald, executive director of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA) was acquitted Wednesday (October 31) on a misdemeanor charge of filing a false police report during a Virginia State Police investigation in June of last year.
Judge W. Dale Houff, following a bench trial (trial without a jury), brought the hour-long hearing in the Warren County General District Court to an abrupt halt when, following a parade of about a dozen witnesses for the prosecution, he allowed a motion to strike (dismiss) the case by defense attorney David Crump immediately following the prosecution’s case.
The charge stemmed from an alleged rock-throwing incident at the 42-year-old McDonald’s home on Faith Way, Front Royal, on June 15, 2017 during which a “crumpled note” was left in front of the house containing two telephone numbers and a typed message, which was not read aloud in court, though the paper was passed back and forth between prosecuting and defense attorneys several times.
The issue was that McDonald had told Royal Examiner reporter Roger Bianchini of the rock being thrown at her house, shattering glass, and a note left on the lawn, some five hours before she reported the incident in a 911 call to Front Royal Police. Based on this information, the Virginia State Police, who were called in by FRPD to conduct the investigation, accused McDonald of filing a false report.
During cross-examination defense counsel Crump read from the transcript of Bianchini’s June 16, 2017 interview with FRPD in which he stated, “My train of thought derails frequently.”
Asked if he said that, Bianchini said, “Yes,” adding that the comment referred to “conversations that went off on multiple tangents.”
Judge Houff said there was no sense that McDonald would fabricate a report and there was no evidence that she did, and it was not believable that she would “set herself up” for a false report charge, a Class 1 misdemeanor. “The evidence is not sufficient,” he said.
After the hearing, McDonald, wearing a black two-piece suit, smilingly declined to comment on the outcome.
Crump, her attorney, said: “Justice was served.”