EATON — Preble County Common Pleas Court heard cases involving drugs, judicial release and violating a protection order on Monday, Sept. 9. Judge Stephen R. Bruns presided.
Brenda Johnson, 48, of Moraine, was sentenced on charges of tampering with evidence. Johnson failed to appear for a previous sentencing hearing on the same charge in February of this year.
Johnson’s attorney, Sam Borst, said his client had been ordered to attend the MonDay program for substance abuse treatment in connection with a criminal case in Montgomery County. Borst initially asked for a continuance in the Preble County case, but Judge Bruns let it be known that he intended to sentence Johnson to a community-based correctional facility, a penalty that would also allow the defendant to participate in MonDay.
Johnson spoke briefly on her own behalf before sentence was handed down.
“I’d really like the chance to better myself, Your Honor,” Johnson told the court. “I know I can do it.”
Bruns was cautious, however, citing Johnson’s history of 23 previous felony charges, including counts of possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
“You’re taking a lot of options away from the court at this point,” Bruns said. “If this is not successful, about the only option left is prison. This is your last opportunity.”
Bruns sentenced Johnson to three years of community control, with a reserved prison sentence of 18 months, which could be imposed if Johnson fails to honor the terms of her probation.
Zebulah Holderman, 34, of Eaton, was sentenced on charges of violating a protection order. Holderman expressed the desire to pursue substance abuse treatment at Genesis Life and Recovery in Hamilton.
“I need a change of scenery,” Holderman told the judge. “Something’s got to give, and it’s obviously not going to be something around here. So I need to go somewhere else.”
Bruns congratulated Holderman on his healthy attitude, but said that responsibility for his recovery is ultimately up to him.
“We can create incentives, but with the time hanging over your head, it’s really up to you,” Bruns told the defendant.
Amanda Tackett, 35, of Eaton, asked the court for judicial release. Tackett was sentenced to 12 months incarceration on charges of aggravated possession of drugs and receiving stolen property in May 2019.
Tackett began her petition for release by thanking the judge for incarcerating her.
“You probably saved my life by sending me to prison,” Tackett said. “I’ve been working very, very hard every single day I’ve been in there to develop coping skills so I don’t use again.”
Judge Bruns was again cautious in granting the defendant’s petition.
“The folks I listen to for advice on stuff like this were very resistant,” Bruns said. “And that’s not the attitude I usually hear. You’ve burned some bridges, and it takes a lot to burn those particular bridges.”
Bruns ultimately chose to grant Tackett’s request, however.
“I’m going to give you a shot,” he said.
Jessica Combs, 31, of Franklin, was sentenced to three years of community control on charges of aggravated possession of drugs. A reserved sentence of 36 months incarceration could be imposed if Combs fails to complete the terms of her probation. Combs must complete substance abuse treatment at Recovery and Wellness Centers of Midwest Ohio. She must also complete 50 hours of community service and pay $150 restitution.