One person has been convicted in Haywood for failing to follow the county’s stay-at-home directive.
Dominca Dearing, 41, of Beachwood Ohio, pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the order, which states that anyone coming in from out of town must quarantine for 14 days. She also pleaded guilty to two counts of larceny.
All charges were misdemeanors, and she ultimately received a suspended 45-day sentence, as well as 12 months of unsupervised probation.
Dearing was arrested April 4 after shoplifting from Walmart for the second day in a row.
According to the Waynesville Police Department incident reports, on April 3, Dearing took “several items” out of the store without paying. While she wasn’t caught that day, officers were given a photo of her, and when she came back to the store the next day and shoplifted again, they were ready to make the arrest.
According to the incident report, Dearing had been apprehended by loss prevention workers within the store. In the arrest report, the loss prevention employee noted that “once in the loss prevention office, the female proceeded to defecate on the floor ‘because she could not hold it.’”
Initially, Dearing identified herself to officers as Tamicka Brown of Pennsylvania.
“The female said her reason for being in town was because her husband was a truck driver and had to stop at the Pilot truck stop in Crabtree,” the incident report reads.
The report later mentions that Dearing had called an Uber driver to pick her up from the truck stop to take her to the Walmart. Officers confirmed that by speaking with the Uber driver, who said she’d driven her to the Walmart the prior day, as well.
It was determined that Dearing had taken $238.79 worth of items.
The report notes that when “Ms. Brown” learned she was being placed under arrest, she stood up and started “screaming in an unidentified language.”
“She then proceeded to pull the dress she was wearing up, exposing her body underneath and again started projectile defacating all over the office,” the report reads. “[The officer] backed up into the corner in the office to avoid the flying feces and called for backup. The female continued to hold her dress up and kept yelling and screaming at everyone around. After she put her dress down, she kept saying that she had the Coronavirus and wanted treatment.”
After putting Dearing in cuffs, she became combative and tried to pull away from officers before again defacating at the entrance of the Walmart.
When picking up her belongings, officers located a passport that identified her as Dominica Dearing.
District Attorney Ashley Welch said that, because Dearing didn’t have much of a criminal record, they determined she wasn’t eligible for jail time, although she did spend four days in the Haywood County Detention Center prior to pleading.
Welch said the plea, which was accepted by the court, serves as proof that her office is willing to convict individuals charged with violating the state or county orders.
“It’s our take this is an enforceable order,” she said. “We’re taking this very seriously … and clearly when you commit a crime, you’re violating the order, because you’re not engaged in essential business.”
Other law enforcement
Waynesville Police Chief David Adams said his officers have charged several individuals with violation of the executive order. However, he also pointed out that they are not doing so unless it accompanies another charge, such as breaking and entering or larceny.
“We’ve been issuing a stay-at-home citation when we’ve caught people doing another crime, especially at Walmart,” he said. “If we see you shoplifting or stealing, we cite you under Executive Order 21.”
In fact, an investigation conducted by WPD in conjunction with the Clyde Police Department is about to end in not only numerous breaking and entering charges, but also a charge for violating the order, said Clyde Police Chief Terry Troutman. Other than that, Clyde hasn’t had many issues.
“We had to speak with one gentleman who was here from Florida,” Troutman said. “Once we educated him about the 14-day quarantine he said, ‘OK, I’ll stay put.’ Once we show people the proclamation they’re pretty much compliant with this. That is really all we’re looking for.”
Likewise, while Maggie Valley Police Officers haven’t charged anyone, Chief Russ Gilliland said they have warned some folks visiting from out of town who were unfamiliar with the 14-day quarantine requirement.
“It was just single people from out of town who weren’t really sure of what the proclamation said,” Gilliland noted. “Most were from out of state. Once we informed them on what was required they complied.”
“I do want to thank our business leaders for what they’ve been doing after the proclamation,” he added. “Our motels and RV campgrounds have done a great job of helping our police department out coping with out of state folks coming in.”
While some of the police chiefs noted a small uptick in business and vehicle break-ins and domestic incidents, overall the rise has been small. Canton Police Chief Shawn Gaddis said that his officers haven’t noticed a rise in crime, nor have they even had any issues with people following the stay-at-home order.
Like the other police chiefs, Gaddis wanted to express his sincere appreciation for people following the order, which makes it easier for his officers to maintain peace and order.
“All our folks down here, they’re abiding by all the proclamation, and we’ve had no problems or incidents to report at this time,” he said. “Everybody down here is abiding by the proclamations that have been set forth by the governor and county commissioners. We appreciate all the cooperation and patience.”