WALLA WALLA, Washington – A Walla Walla woman charged with five counts of reckless endangerment and one count of third-degree assault after prosecutors say she recklessly fired a shot towards a young paperboy last November was sentenced Wednesday afternoon in Walla Walla County Superior Court.
Stephanie Joanne Van Cleef, 39, was sentenced to 10 months in jail, with one of those months converted to 240 hours of community custody.
“So her total jail term is nine months in custody,” explained Walla Walla County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle. “She has an additional two months of jail suspended for one year contingent on compliance with her supervision requirements. She is on Department of Corrections’ supervision for one year, and her conditions include mental health treatment.”
Nagle added there are no-contact orders for all the victims, she is allowed work release and her firearm rights were revoked.
Van Cleef is to turn herself in to jail by 5 p.m. on Monday.
Nagle said the young paperboy’s parents spoke at her sentencing and expressed agreement with the state’s recommended sentence length and were both consulted prior to the state entering a plea deal and agreed that a significant jail sentence was appropriate.
In March, Van Cleef entered an Alford Plea, which is the same as pleading guilty. In entering the plea, the defendant does not admit to the criminal act and asserts innocence, but the defendant also admits that the evidence presented by the prosecution would likely persuade a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
According to court documents, on November 20, 2018, Van Cleef heard a bang at her front door at her home on the 1100 block of Stoneyhaven Lane, so she armed herself with a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, opened the door and allegedly fired a round in the direction of the 13-year-old paperboy.
The single round missed the paper boy, hitting a home across the street which was occupied by five people. Court documents state the round penetrated numerous walls and went through several rooms. Nobody was injured.
According to court documents, Van Cleef’s attorney argued her client has been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and that Van Cleef suffers from epilepsy, seizures, acute anxiety and PTSD.
Van Cleef told police she fired a “warning shot” as she thought someone else was present on her property posing a threat to her and her vehicle.
However, the state argued Van Cleef had every opportunity to avoid the situation she created and that despite Van Cleef creating a suspicious situation in her mind’s eye, the only person in the area that night was the young paperboy and he was not posing a threat to her or her vehicle, but just doing his job.