Addiction, felonies land drug-treatment sentence

Published 8:14 pm Wednesday, January 15, 2014



In Beaufort County Superior Court, a Washington woman was ordered to complete a court ordered two-year addiction-treatment program, else face a long prison sentence.

Vivian Hester received several suspended sentences for drug possession, DWI, breaking and entering and larceny Wednesday. The crimes date back several years.

According to the state’s summary, in Feb. 2012, a single vehicle accident in which Hester ended up in a ditch on a road off Market Street Extension in Washington led to the DWI charge; a search during a March 2012 traffic stop by a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputy on U.S. Highway 264 West turned up heroin in Hester’s purse, used and new syringes in the vehicle and on her person; an investigation by the sheriff’s office led to charges against Hester for breaking and entering and larceny after kitchen supplies, an air conditioner and other items were stolen from a friend of Hester, then sold to a pawn shop.

“The vast majority of these crimes are because of a disease that my client has involving drugs and alcohol,” defense attorney Keith Fox told Superior Court Judge Marvin K. Blount. “She’s a very, very bright, intelligent young lady. Her problem is she has a severe addiction.”

Fox said Hester had been accepted into Black Mountain Women’s Treatment program and had voluntarily withdrawn a petition for custody of her two children, as she knew she needed to break her drug and alcohol habit before she assumed custody.

“She has hit rock bottom,” Fox said, asking the court to send Hester to the treatment program.

On the prosecution side, Assistant District Attorney Tom Anglim asked in return that should Blount assign Hester to the program, it come with conditions: “If she doesn’t successfully complete it, she gets every day (in prison) she’s entitled to.”

Hester, who has been incarcerated in the Beaufort County jail since October, addressed the judge.

“I’m sorry I’m in front of the court on all those charges because they’re embarrassing,” Hester said. “I didn’t wake up one morning and chose this life of being an addict — I didn’t.”

She described the drug culture that exists in jail, how inmates enroll in treatment programs with no intention of following through: “Seventy-five percent of women I’ve been in prison with, they laugh and they joke and they make reservations to use drugs again. … That was me — I did that.”

But no longer, she said.

“I agree with Mr. Anglim, if I don’t complete this program, I’ll do every sentence,” Hester said.

Blount handed down four judgments: a sentence of 9 to 20 months for the breaking and entering/larceny charges; 6 to 17 months, suspended, for possession of a schedule I controlled substance; another 6 to 17 months, suspended, for possession of a schedule I controlled substance; and 45 days for the DWI charge.

Blount qualified that the lead sentence — felony breaking and entering/larceny — is an active sentence, but “the court will order a stay of execution pending the release and satisfactory compliance of Black Mountain Women’s Treatment program.”

A violation of that stay of execution would mean another court hearing that could send her back to serve the full sentences.

“The long and short of it is that if she doesn’t complete the program, she’ll still owe the state 4 ½ years,” Fox said.