Supreme Court rules against mom who gave teen heroin
HUNTINGTON — The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has ruled against a woman sentenced to serve years behind bars after giving a 16-year-old girl heroin to help settle a stomachache three years ago.
Michelle Ann Kitchen, 38, was sentenced by Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell in 2016 to serve four to 20 years in prison after she was convicted of child abuse creating the risk of injury and delivery of a controlled substance to a minor.
Kitchen later admitted to giving the drug to the child and was sentenced to probation after she entered recovery for drug-dependency issues and was doing well on her path to sobriety.
About six months later, Kitchen’s probation was revoked after officers said she tested positive for morphine and admitted to officers she had used heroin.
She also failed to attend outpatient treatment for recovery and pay fees for her supervision.
In her appeal, Kitchen’s attorney argued that although she had used drugs, the illegal usage of drugs was not probated under the “special terms” of her probation, and therefore she should have been entitled to be sent to jail for 60 days as a punishment rather than her original sentence being reinstated.
However, the Supreme Court ruled the statute referenced gives circuit court judges discretion on whether they want to execute a 60-day sentence or impose the original sentence.
“Given the egregious underlying facts of this case and the extraordinary opportunity granted to Ms. Kitchen for a second chance, we are inclined to agree with the circuit court,” the ruling stated.
The original investigation started on Nov. 30, 2015, when a 16-year-old girl said she was addicted to heroin and possibly other controlled substances.
The victim was taken into custody by Child Protective Services, who took her to an emergency room and later River Park Hospital for detox, according to the complaint.
She said she had been introduced to the drugs by Kitchen after complaining she had a stomachache and was told it would help with the pain. The victim also disclosed she was taught how to inject the heroin when the heroin was too wet to inhale, the officer said.
During Kitchen’s time on probation, first responders were dispatched to her home, where she was found unconscious in a bathtub and had to be revived after cardiac arrest.
Minor children who had been returned to her custody were in the home at the time. The report said Kitchen admitted to taking Lortab.
Kitchen said the incident was not due to an overdose, but rather occurred because of a drop in her blood pressure.
Farrell, who was sitting in with the Supreme Court on temporary assignment when the appeal was heard, was disqualified from ruling in the case.
The defendant will be eligible for parole in 2027, according to West Virginia Department of Corrections booking records.
Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.