Monday, April 29, 2013

Woman pleads guilty in connection with false accusation of home invasion that sent teen to jail for 8 months

Reported here:

A Maryland woman who falsely accused a teen in a home invasion where a Fawn Grove resident was shot pleaded guilty to obstruction of the administration of law Wednesday and was sentenced to two years probation.

Cassie Jo Heath, 27, told York County Judge Craig T. Trebilcock that she was under the influence of drugs when Pennsylvania State Police questioned her about their suspicions that Mason Michael Carter, then 17, had shot William Cooper in the chest after he broke into the Cooper home on Park Drive about 1:30 a.m. Oct. 20.

Carter was arrested and charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery and related charges. 

He remained incarcerated for almost eight months before being released on nominal bail on June 20.

Police arrested Bradford S. Holup, 50, of Baltimore, five days later in connection with the home invasion. According to police, Holup, who was in a Maryland prison on an unrelated attempted homicide charge, reportedly had confessed to police on June 18.

Wednesday, Heath told Trebilcock she was in methadone treatment but had not used illegal drugs in over a year.

She said police had come to her house and told her Carter was in custody for the home invasion. She said she told them "over and over again" that Carter was not involved.

"They didn't believe me, so I lied," she said. "I dug myself a hole and got deeper and deeper."

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker said Heath had tried to recant her allegation at Carter's preliminary hearing. But, he said, witnesses trying to change their testimony at that point are "a dime a dozen in our world."

Barker said Heath's sentence could be viewed as lenient compared to the time Carter spent in custody. He explained that investigators had determined that Heath may have some information about the home invasion and Carter and had contacted her. She had not make any attempt to contact police to frame Carter, he said.

Barker also said he spoke with Carter on Tuesday evening. Carter was not present at Heath's hearing because of work obligations, Barker said.

Barker told Trebilcock that Carter said he and Heath "are on good terms," was supportive of her drug counseling and was in agreement with the proposed probationary sentence.

"It would be understandable if Mr. Carter were not," Barker said. "I think Mr. Carter shows great maturity in this."

Trebilcock said he agreed, noting that he had the same initial concerns about the sentence before hearing from Barker.

"I would be inclined to give you some jail time," Trebilcock said to Heath. "To balance the scale for what Mr. Carter went through."

But Trebilcock said, he believed Heath had been scared when confronted by police and made some choices while on drugs that were "poor choices."