The tears came easily and often as Brittany N. Fernekees told the court a story of being manipulated, being abused by her boyfriend and her heroin addiction.
While being addicted to heroin since high school, the 20-year-old New London woman said he often had "no conscious memory" of what her boyfriend told her to do, so it was easy not to keep track of what she did.
"I had to do all the dirty work," Fernekees said. "If I screwed up, there were consequences. I was physically and emotionally abused."
Fernekees told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway that her boyfriend, John Youngless, got her addicted to heroin. She also said she had to do many unspecified things her boyfriend told her to do.
"I didn't know any better," recalled Fernekees, who said she now knows she can make her own decisions.
"It's been really hard to get sober," said the defendant, who has been undergoing substance abuse counseling at Firelands Counseling & Recovery Services. "I go to three AA meetings a week usually."
Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said
Fernekees, of 311 U.S. 250, New London, said her grandmother's support was instrumental to her being able to get sober and finish high school.
Defense attorney John Allton spoke briefly on his client's behalf at Tuesday's hearing.
"She's been doing everything she can to turn her life around," Allton said.
Since Fernekees had a negative drug screen when probation officers compiled her presentence report, Conway said that was a good sign that she was trying to stay sober. The judge told Fernekees he didn't want to discourage her, but said he often sentences drug defendants to prison and he hopes she'll continue her rehabilitation efforts after a 60-day jail term.
As part of her three years of intensively supervised probation for trafficking in heroin, Fernekees also had her driver's license suspended for six months. She also was ordered to pay $40 in restitution to the Huron County Sheriff's Office to reimburse the agency for drug testing. Conway prohibited Fernekees from having any association with Youngless, 29, of 1546 U.S. 250, New London.
If Fernekees violates her community control sanctions, she faces one year in prison.