Man sentenced out of violent series of events

A Marietta man accused of hitting a teenager with a vehicle he was attempting to steal was sentenced Wednesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court.

Fighting with his ex-girlfriend in a McDonald’s parking lot on Jan. 14, Michael J. Farnsworth, 24, of 1421 Lancaster St., reportedly took control of his ex’s vehicle and attempted to drive away in it.

However, he hit a 14-year-old female Marietta Middle School student while backing out of a parking space.

His girlfriend retrieved the keys while he was checking on the girl. However, Farnsworth punched the woman in the stomach, took possession of the keys again and ran off, said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.

“Essentially her car just sat there in the parking lot for five days while he had the keys,” said Schneider.

Farnsworth was indicted on two second-degree felony counts of robbery for the incident and pleaded guilty March 21 to one of the two counts.

“The state would recommend a two-year prison sentence,” said Schneider.

However, Farnsworth’s attorney, Nancy Brum, recommended community control sanctions.

“His mother is having some significant health problems at this time,” she said.

Farnsworth, who has prior felony convictions for theft and burglary in 2007, has already completed the SEPTA program once and has spent time in prison, said Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth.

“Your prior record on most circumstances would have certainly found you on your way to prison again,” said Burnworth.

However, the factors that made Farnsworth’s crime less serious than most second-degree felony robbery offenses outweighed those factors that would make it more serious, noted Burnworth.

For one thing, Farnsworth showed remorse by stopping during the incident and exiting the vehicle to make sure the person he hit was safe, said the judge.

The girl was bruised but didn’t require medical attention, said Schneider.

“A community control sanction will be adequate to punish the offender,” Burnworth ruled, sentencing three years under the supervised program.

Farnsworth was also sentenced to 67 days in the Washington County Jail, all of which he has already served while awaiting trial.

He was also sentenced to undergo drug and alcohol evaluation at L&P Services and will undergo evaluation for the court’s “Thinking For A Change” program, a cognitive behavioral change program developed by The National Institute of Corrections.

“Under the circumstances, the state is going to give you a chance to toe the line and to think about how the decisions you make in the spur of the moment can result in harm and danger to others,” said Burnworth.

Farnsworth’s ex-girlfriend, who was in court for the sentencing, did not wish to make a statement, but said as she was exiting, “He got off too easy.”

He faced a maximum of eight years in prison on the charge.