LISBON - An 83-year-old woman was found guilty of criminal trespassing in her neighbor's barn and sentenced to 30 days in jail in Columbiana County Municipal Court Wednesday.
Delores Pahanish's jail sentence is not scheduled to begin until June 26, two days after a scheduled review hearing. Judge Mark Frost said he hopes Pahanish will follow his order to stay 50 feet away from the neighbor's barn until then and he can suspend the jail sentence.
Both Assistant County Prosecutor Virginia Barborak and Pahanish's defense attorney, Coleen Hall Dailey, said they believe jail is no place for someone of the defendant's age. But Frost said he believes she would do better there than what they are giving her credit for being able to handle.
"I will survive," the feisty Pahanish piped up from her seat in the courtroom.
Testimony was heard throughout the afternoon where it was learned the neighbors, Heidi Scott and her daughter, purchased the property on Miller Road, Leetonia, through a sheriff's sale. Years earlier the property had been part of Pahanish's property. However, she had kept a smaller part of it and sold the rest to a relative.
Scott has called the sheriff's department numerous times to report Pahanish was in her barn again and causing a disturbance. Deputies told her on several occasions to cease going into the barn, but Pahanish reportedly continued to go there.
In question is the eight-stall barn, which actually may lie on both properties with only a small portion near the front door actually belonging to Pahanish. At one point, there could have been an easement, but it is not currently in the title.
Frost said his ruling does not decide the property line issue, which should be taken to a civil court. The neighbors reportedly are in the process of doing so.
"I don't like sending anyone to jail," Frost said urging Pahanish to heed the warning. "My hope is there are no further problems and I can place you on probation."
The judge later commented that the defendant was "competent but stubborn."
Frost found Pahanish not guilty of a second charge of persistent disorderly conduct. While he noted there was a persistent issue with Pahanish going into the barn repeatedly, there was no proof she presented a risk of any immediate danger to the neighbors by doing so.
Pahanish had reportedly threatened to set the horses loose if the neighbors did not stay out of the barn.