FARMINGTON – Justice Michaela Murphy ordered a Wilton woman Tuesday to serve two years of a four-year prison sentence for furnishing methadone to her daughter last year, leading to her death.
Valarie Webb, 48, sobbed and visibly shook, sometimes rocking in her seat in Franklin County Superior Court, during the nearly two-hour sentencing hearing on her conviction of unlawfully furnishing of a scheduled drug.
Murphy also ordered Webb to serve two years probation upon her release and to undergo substance abuse counseling and not to have or be in a place where there is alcohol or illegal drugs.
Webb pleaded guilty to the felony furnishing charge June 10. She allowed her daughter, Alysha Webb, 23, of Wilton to have some of her methadone pills on May 23, 2010, according to statements in court. The younger Webb, mother of two young girls, was found dead by her mother in her nearby mobile home the next day.
Assistant District Attorney James Andrews argued for a four-year sentence with all but two-and-a-half years suspended, two years probation and other conditions.
Defense attorney Christopher Berryment argued for a one-year sentence with all but 30 days suspended.
The maximum penalty for the drug conviction is up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Andrews said Wilton police officer Nicholas Oettinger responded to a report of a suspicious death at Arkay Trailer Park on May 24, 2010. He conducted interviews then called in Maine State Police.
Valarie Webb admitted to police that she allowed her daughter to have some of her methadone pills, a synthetic narcotic, and Gabepentin, an anticonvulsant drug that does have recreation use, Andrews said.
Andrews pointed out that there were more than 100 methadone pills missing from Valerie Webb's prescription and there was a heavy concentration of that drug in Alshya Webb's blood that was a significant factor in her death, he said.
According to a toxicology report, Alshya Webb had three-and-a-half times the amount of a therapeutic dose of methadone in her system, Justice Murphy said. The cause of death was listed as accidental overdose of methadone in combination with Benadryl.
Berryment said Webb's daughter begged her for drugs to ease her pain and she initially denied her but after repeated requests, she relented.
“She sits here today in terrible pain,” Berryment said. She found her daughter dead on the floor of her residence, he said.
“I see no greater deterrent than the death of one's child,” he said.
Witnesses spoke in favor of Webb, the closeness she had with her daughter and now with her granddaughter. They also said Alysha Webb had a heart condition.
Webb, sobbing, told the court that her daughter was her whole life.
“I raised her myself,” she said. “I never would have done anything to hurt her.”
She asked that the court not take her away from her granddaughter.
“That baby girl is my reason for living,” she said. “She needs me. She lost her mother... Please don't hurt my granddaughter. Please, please forgive me. I'm so sorry. Please don't punish my baby anymore.”
Justice Murphy said it is inconceivable to the court that a mother would give an adult child methadone to address the medical symptoms her daughter had.
“We have a young woman who is dead, who had two daughters who will never have a mother,” Murphy said.
After handing down the sentence, Murphy said it is clear to the court the defendant has been taking a large amount of dangerous prescription drugs.
“It is clear the defendant needs to be off opiates drugs,” she said. She said there is a program at the Department of Corrections that will help her get off the drugs.