Kathy Ann Vest, 53, of Amissville, was sentenced in Rappahannock County Circuit Court last Tuesday (March 24) for distributing oxycodone on two separate occasions last year.
In his pre-sentencing testimony, Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff told the court that Vest “sold drugs prescribed by her doctor for pain. Ms. Vest presents well and she has a clean record up to now. But she’s the friendly-looking neighbor lady slinging drugs. She was heard on tape [recorded by an informant] that people still owe her money.” Goff urged that “given the dangers to society of distributing drugs, the court should send a message to Vest in its sentence about the implications of her behavior.”
Vest’s attorney, Thomas Soldan, told Judge Jeffrey W. Parker that Vest’s offense was “a crime of abuse and opportunity. She had been prescribed pain medication while recovering from cancer and became addicted. Drugs took over her daily life. She knows this is wrong — she has spent most of her life without violation — but she didn’t get rich selling drugs.”
In addition, Soldan said that while Vest has been incarcerated, she has been active in Alcoholics Anonymous, even serving as a mentor to others. He said that she is anxious to work and to be a proper mother to her sons. Soldan asked the court, in deciding its sentence, to consider Vest’s history, age, health, and actions to better her life.
Vest, who had pleaded guilty to the two offenses Jan. 27 (a third charge was dropped), read a statement of apology. “Incarceration has made me aware of the implications of my addiction,” she said.
Parker said that although he understood that the drug offense could be considered an aberration, “the sentiments of the court echo those of the Commonwealth. We’ve been seeing an increase in the incidence of drug use and you were involved in the sale of drugs.” He sentenced Vest to 10 years in prison for each of two offenses, to be served concurrently, suspending all but one year and four months; four years of probation upon her release; one years’ loss of her driver’s license; completion of Virginia’s alcohol education program; and payment of $400 restitution to the court.
Terry Denvell Collins, 58, of Washington, was sentenced to a year and three months in prison for violating his probation. On Oct. 29, he was arrested for driving with a suspended license after having been declared a habitual offender with multiple prior convictions.
Before Parker announced the sentence, Collins’s attorney, Mark Bailey, asked the court to consider some extenuating circumstances, including that on the date of the offense, Collins’s wife had been called to the hospital to be with her daughter who was having complications during childbirth. As Mrs. Collins was not home, Mr. Collins had to drive himself to work.
Goff cited Collins’s “criminal career” dating to 1976. “The public interest demands a substantial period of incarceration for Collins,” said Goff. He said the sentencing guidelines called for one to five years in jail, with a minimum of 12 months and no suspension of time.
Bailey acknowledged that his client had a long record of criminal behavior, but asked that the court balance that against Collins’s clean record over the past 10 years. “Except for this violation, Mr. Collins has not committed any offenses,” said Bailey. “Mr. Collins has made changes in his life and has become more responsible.” Because of this, Bailey asked that Collins receive the minimum sentence under the guidelines.
Collins also apologized to the court, saying “I have tried to change my life in the last 10 years. All I do is work. My wife has been a tremendous help to me.”
In his sentencing statement, Judge Parker said, “You were hell on wheels for a while, but it looks like you’ve settled down. I can’t give you the minimum sentence, but I will take your last 10 years into account.” He sentenced Collins to one year and three months in the penitentiary and two years’ supervised probation upon his release. Parker also authorized work release.