A 33-year-old Darlington man was sentenced at the Lafayette County Courthouse on Wednesday, Dec. 14, for crimes committed nearly a year ago.
Shawn McQuaid, charged with Class I felony arson of property other than a building and Class B misdemeanor disorderly conduct, was sentenced to eight months in the Lafayette County jail starting on Dec. 28 with Huber privileges for employment purposes. He was also given three years probation and asked to pay restitution totaling more than $26,000.
According to the criminal complaint, McQuaid was arrested on Dec. 24, 2010, in Grant County after a series of events taking place in Darlington staring on Dec. 23. McQuaid was in an altercation at Trailside Bar in the early morning hours of Dec. 24 where he reportedly verbally threatened the life of another man. After the victim left the bar, McQuaid sent several threatening text messages to the same man. At approximately 3 a.m. McQuaid was reportedly seen fleeing the scene of a car that was lit on fire in an alley along Main Street. The car belonged to the same victim who received the threatening messages. The fire also damaged another nearby vehicle. McQuaid then made suicidal threats and fled the county to a family-owned property in the Cassville area. At approximately 7 a.m. McQuaid turned himself in to Grant County authorities. In McQuaid’s vehicle law enforcement discovered two loaded, uncased guns. McQuaid was transported to Mendota Mental Health Institute.
McQuaid pled not guilty to all four counts and then on June 15 he changed his plea for all four charges to not guilty due to mental disease or defect. On Sept. 21 McQuaid was at the Lafayette County Courthouse for a motion hearing where he pled guilty to two of the four charges and the other two charges were dismissed.
On Sept. 21 McQuaid pled guilty to arson of property other than building, a Class I felony punishable by up to 3 ½ years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, and disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. The other two charges—computer message threaten/obscenity, a Class B misdemeanor, and stalking, a Class I felony—were dismissed as part of a plea bargain.
Green County Judge Thomas Vale was presiding over the case.
The victim made a statement before the sentence was determined. He said he was upset that McQuaid was out on a signature bond all of this time, living five houses away from him, “because your dad is an outstanding citizen.”
The victim’s mother had a friend of the family read a statement she wrote reviewing the details of the case and stating that her son has post-traumatic stress disorder since this all happened.
McQuaid’s wife, Joy, made a statement asking that the judge consider that McQuaid has two children who are suffering from this situation, too.
Both Green County District Attorney Gary Luhman and McQuaid’s attorney, Philip Brehm, reviewed the case details for the judge.
“It’s difficult sorting out the defendant’s intentions versus his reckless thoughtlessness of his actions,” Luhman said. He summarized McQuaid’s actions as “selfish.”
“This is a case that has had a significant impact on the city of Darlington,” Luhman said. “… What the court needs to consider is the seriousness of the actual incident, the threatening behavior that led up to this, the repeated bad judgments that Mr. McQuaid made over a period of several hours leading up to his decision to take a gallon of chainsaw gas from his dad’s pick-up truck and pour it on [the victim’s] vehicle and then light it on fire…”
Luhman also stressed that alcohol abuse contributed to and fueled the inappropriate and risky behavior McQuaid showed.
Luhman said restitution in this case totals $26,516.50, with payments being made to the two victims, Darlington Fire Department, an insurance company and the city of Darlington. Brehm, asked that McQuaid have a reasonable amount of time to pay the restitution.
Luhman requested McQuaid be on probation for three years for the felony charge and two years for disorderly conduct as well as six months in the Lafayette County jail with work release privileges to pay the restitution. He also asked that McQuaid attempt victim/defender mediation reconciliation toward the conclusion of his probation and that McQuaid follow up with AODA and mental health treatments.
Brehm stressed that McQuaid already served 70 days of confinement and asked that it be counted toward his sentence. He also asked that the sentence be reduced from the recommended 6 months to only 4 months in jail with work release and childcare privileges.
McQuaid apologized to all of the people involved in the case. He said he accepted whatever the court decided.
“I would like to take responsibility for everything and move forward on with this positively and productively and have it as a memory in the past and a learning experience…,” McQuaid said.
Vale said things like this can’t happen in a small town without it impacting a number of people. He said McQuaid acting in a fit of rage was out of control and could have harmed more people than he did. He recommended McQuaid look to the future and make sure it doesn’t ha