A 79-year-old Villager will be spending Thanksgiving behind bars after the delay of a motion hearing that could have led to her freedom.
Janice Frances McKee of the Village of Hacienda East, has been held without bond since July 6 at the Sumter County Detention Center.
A motion in her case was scheduled to be heard this past Wednesday, but that motion hearing has been delayed until Dec. 20.
Her attorney is seeking a dismissal of the charges she is facing, indicating his client has been diagnosed with dementia “which is manifested by paranoia, impaired reality testing, memory deficits, and a lack of insight,” according to a document on file in Sumter County Court.
In addition, family members have stepped in and been granted a guardianship over McKee, according to documents on file in court.
McKee and her husband purchased their home in 2016. He died one year later.
She was arrested June 8 after allegedly trimming her neighbor’s tree in what appears to be a long-running dispute. She had been free on $2,000 bond when she was arrested a second time on June 23 when she drove onto her neighbor’s lawn with her golf cart and proceeded to hit her neighbor with a stick, according to an arrest report from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office. The second arrest was considered a violation of her bond from the first arrest.
McKee, who lives at 1301 Fontana Court, has property that backs up to the residence of 89-year-old William Calabrese at 1302 Corona Ave.
He said he had been sitting in his house at about 7 p.m. June 23 when McKee drove her golf cart into his backyard. He walked out the backdoor and asked McKee to leave. Calabrese’s dog ran out the backdoor and began running circles around McKee’s dog, prompting the Buffalo, N.Y. native to swing a stick at her neighbor’s dog. He told her to stop swinging the stick at his dog and he stepped in between them to try to protect his dog. McKee’s stick struck her neighbor in the shoulder. She got back into her golf cart, drove it onto the roadway and went back inside her house.
Prior to her first arrest, sheriff’s deputies had responded five times to disputes involving the warring neighbors. Her June 8 arrest came after Calabrese provided deputies with a photo of McKee on his property, next to his tree with “tree loppers and a garbage can.” The tree was 19 feet from the neighbors’ mutual property line.
McKee, who acknowledged she had been warned multiple times to stay off Calabrese’s property, claimed she “needed to cut down the tree in order to have an effective survey completed.” She showed deputies a satellite image of the property but “had drawn a new line on the image with a pen, cutting through his residence and claiming half of his house was hers also.”
She had previously taken the shears to Calabrese’s peach tree in a previous incident, but it was so close to the property line that no arrest was made in that case.
McKee had no previous criminal history.