Mom may be headed to Porter County drug court, daughter to prison

2012-04-23T13:45:00Z 2012-04-24T12:35:33Z Mom may be headed to Porter County drug court, daughter to prisonBy Bob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Just a few minutes before being sentenced to six years in prison for selling heroin, Sabrina Burns, of Valparaiso, told the court how she would use the drug with her mother, who would sometimes inject her with the heroin.

This occurred, the 22-year-old said, after growing up with both her parents and step-parents using drugs and now either dead, in jail or in a recovery-based halfway house.

The story did not cause Porter Superior Judge Roger Bradford to back away much from his tough stance on heroin sales.

But the judge voiced frustration after learning Burns' 43-year-old mother, Lisa Jones, of Valparaiso, had cut a proposed deal to go to drug court rather than prison on her own felony dealing charges and will walk away with a clean record if she completes the program.

"That's awful," he said of Burns' version of the story. "Things are just totally backwards in this case."

Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper will decide May 1 whether to accept the proposed plea agreement that calls for sending Jones to drug court, according to court records.

Portage-based attorney Nicholas Barnes, who is representing Jones, could not be reached Monday for comment.

Defense attorney Larry Rogers, who represented Burns, said his client deserved a break considering the family in which she grew up and yet drug court was not an option because of her mother's proposed involvement. Only one family member can be eligible for drug court at a time.

Rogers said Burns, who has a 4-year-old son, is not a dealer. She would sell to support her own habit and sometimes even buy drugs from the person she sold to a day earlier.

Burns, who told the court her son believes she is away at school, already has served 256 days in jail. She can complete her prison term in half the time or less with good behavior and participation in various programs.

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