Sarah Carlyle

Sarah Carlyle

It wasn’t a question as to whether or not a 20-year-old woman was going to prison. She is. Whether or not she will spend the rest of her life with a felony conviction on her record was up to a judge.

“There is no question in my mind that you need institutional treatment,” Christian County Presiding Judge Laura Johnson told Sarah Carlyle. “You need treatment, and that’s clear, and if you’re not going to do it in the community, you’re going to go do it in the Department of Corrections.”

Carlyle, 20, was sentenced Jan. 9, to 120 days in a prison drug addiction treatment program. The imposition of Carlyle’s sentence was suspended, meaning that two convictions of class D felony possession of a controlled substance may be wiped from her criminal record if Carlyle completes her prison sentence and five years of supervised probation, which may include drug court treatment.

Carlyle told a Christian County sheriff’s deputy she was homeless at the time of her initial arrest.

On Dec. 18, 2019, Carlyle failed to appear for her sentencing hearing in Ozark and the judge issued a warrant for her arrest. Carlyle was taken into custody Dec. 26. She appeared by video teleconference from the Christian County Jail. It was by video that Judge Johnson offered Carlyle a stern talking-to about the ramifications of her failure to appear in court. In addition to failing to appear for sentencing, Carlyle failed to show up at a Missouri Department of Probation and Parole office for sentence assessment, and she failed to complete a drug treatment program at New Beginning Sanctuary in Springfield.

“You’re off to a very rocky start, you’ve dug yourself in a hole here,” Johnson said. “I hope you appreciate the bit of grace that you are receiving today.”

“Yes, m’am,” Carlyle responded.

“Do you understand that I have given you an opportunity here?” the judge asked.

“Yes, m’am,” Carlyle answered.

“OK. I want you to go to treatment, and when you get out, we’re going to continue to work with you here, OK?” Johnson said.

“Yes, m’am,” Carlyle said.

Carlyle was originally arrested along with two other men after a Christian County sheriff’s deputy made a traffic stop on their vehicle at the intersection of U.S. Highway 160 and Missouri Highway 413 in Billings on Oct. 4, 2018. According to the probable cause statement from that traffic stop, Carlyle was one of the passengers in a speeding Nissan Altima.

According to the court document, the deputy found a purse in the car that Carlyle claimed ownership of. Inside the purse, the deputy found several plastic bags, including a bag that contained a residue that Carlyle allegedly admitted “would test positive for heroin and possibly contained fentanyl.” Carlyle allegedly told the deputy she was addicted to heroin.

“She told the officer at the time she was homeless and won’t ever stop, when asked how long she’d been using heroin,” Christian County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Anna Bunch said.

Deputies also recovered a dose of Narcan, a drug used as emergency treatment to prevent death in the event of an opioid overdose.

“Obviously, this is an ongoing issue. (Carlyle) has not been amenable to doing any treatment outside in the community, didn’t take this seriously, didn’t go to New Beginnings, didn’t show up for the sentencing assessment report, so in the very least we think she needs the 120,” Bunch said.

Defense attorney Travis Weems didn’t argue much about the facts of the case. Instead, he argued that Carlyle should have an opportunity for redemption, in spite of her previous attempts to follow court orders coming up short.

“She’s never been in denial that she has a drug problem. Her family history, people that she has to have contact with, is not too great for that habit,” Weems said. “I think she does need some kind of structured support there.”

Weems argued that Carlyle needs a structured drug treatment program.

“She’s young. She’s not had an idea of what it’s like to not be on something and have a chance at life,” Weems said.

Johnson told Carlyle that her failure to complete the treatment program in Springfield was a key factor in the 120-day prison sentence.

“You had a pretty good deal worked out, where all you had to do was go to New Beginnings and participate successfully in that program, and get yourself to probation for preparation of your sentence assessment report. If you would have done those things, you would have returned for your sentencing, and you probably would have received a (suspended imposition of sentence) and been placed on probation, but you did not do any of that,” Johnson said.

Carlyle was arrested four times as her case moved through associate circuit court for either failing to appear for hearings or failing to abide by the orders of her probation officer. Online court records show Caryle entered a guilty plea on Oct. 2, 2019.

The driver in the traffic stop, Stanley Hall of Springfield, pleaded guilty to driving while revoked and speeding. He is currently wanted on unrelated drug charges in Webster County. The other passenger, Joshua Fultz, has a plea hearing scheduled for Jan. 8, in Christian County. He is accused of class D felony possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

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