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Woman allowed to stay in treatment at sentencing

La Plata, MD - Every now and then a defendant in Charles County Circuit Court gets it right. Judge H. James West responded accordingly.

Kiera Ashley Brien, 29 of Waldorf, faced sentencing Tuesday, July 7 for a theft charge stemming from an incident in January last year when she stole items from Kohls.

Brien represents an issue of growing concern in Southern Maryland as she started out abusing oxycodone and graduated to cheaper heroin, bringing a slough of charges.

To her credit, she has been in group therapy at Sober Gals through the Carol Porto Center and is six months clean.

“She has a long history of addiction,” Charles County Assistant States Attorney Jeremy Widder noted. “Recovery is never a straight line. There is a high percentage of relapse. I don’t want to see her relapse. This is a case where incarceration might not be the best option.”

“There certainly was an addiction problem,” Public Defender Courtney Dixon told the court. “She had gone through the worst of the worst. She lost her kids, but she has moved into the second phase of recovery. She is doing better. At the time of her arrest, she was not. She was out doing things to hurt people, just feeding her addiction.”

She said her clients children were in the custody of family members.

Dixon asked the court to give her client credit for time served and unsupervised probation.

“I definitely learned a lot through this,” Brien said. “I don’t know if I would be here if you had not held me on bond,” she told West. “I had to throw a lot of people out of my life. My addiction affected people around me. I didn’t know how close I was to death.”

The judge told the defendant her remembered her well, how once she had sat through court all day, went out for a cigarette and never returned.

“I did not see you slip out of the courtroom,” West told her, “I just looked up and you were gone. We had the deputies looking for you. I am glad you are well,” he told her.

“You have to keep things going,” he warned. “The odds are stacked against you.

“As long as she is sober I will make it easy,” he told the court.

West then sentenced Brien to 18 months, all suspended except for 165 days, which she already had on the books as credit for time served.

He then placed her on five years of supervised probation, through which she must attend four self-help groups a week and undergo urinalysis when ordered by the court to do so.

“My goal is to give you an incentive so that when things get rough, you may say to yourself, I don’t want to lose my kids for good,” West stressed.

He added he would transfer probation to Calvert County, where the defendant is in therapy, but she would have to report to the Waldorf office initially.

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com

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