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W.Va. woman in high-speed Fayette chase sentenced to 7 to 14 years

| Saturday, March 8, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A West Virginia woman who fired a handgun at a state police car during a high-speed chase in Fayette County was sentenced on Friday to seven to 14 years in prison.

Jessica Phillips, 28, of Buckhannon declined to comment before President Judge John F. Wagner Jr. imposed the sentence.

She did object, however, to the possibility that she might have to pay for repairs to a home that was damaged when her accomplice barricaded himself inside and shot himself.

The chase led to the crash of the truck Phillips was riding in, a nine-hour standoff with police and the suicide of Phillips' fiancé, Donald Ray Brown, 53.

Phillips said after her Feb. 27 plea hearing that her downfall was fueled by a methamphetamine addiction.

On Sept. 27, police said, a state conservation officer discovered Phillips and Brown with a mobile meth lab near the Youghiogheny River in Dunbar Township, with pots, chemicals and tubing used to produce the drug, police said.

The discovery escalated to the police chase that ended with the suicide in an unoccupied North Union home.

Phillips pleaded guilty to attempted homicide, aggravated assault, conspiracy, receiving stolen property, reckless endangerment, drug and other charges. The sentence includes prison time for a case in which Phillips pleaded guilty to assaulting a corrections officer in the Fayette County Prison.

Although the house involved in the standoff sustained $67,675 in damage, Wagner did not impose restitution for Phillips to pay the homeowner's insurance company that bore the cost.

Wagner said the district attorney's office did not have the necessary paperwork prepared in time for Friday's hearing. The office can file the paperwork later, and a hearing will be held, Wagner said.

But Phillips balked.

“I was not inside the home,” Phillips said. “I came out. He's the one who stayed inside.”

Phillips surrendered to police shortly after she and Brown entered the house on Center Avenue.

Police used bullhorns and enlisted Phillips to ask Brown to come out.

Officers lobbed tear gas through the windows and eventually used a robot to break down the front door. Brown was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot in the head.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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