By Tim MacVean
ELKINS - A Huttonsville woman was sentenced to up to four years in prison and fined $4,500 in Randolph County Circuit Court Wednesday.
Rebecca Lou Blankenship, 40, was found guilty by a jury on May 15 of one felony count of driving while license revoked for DUI, third or subsequent offense, one misdemeanor count of no insurance and one misdemeanor count of no registration.
Senior Status Judge Thomas Keadle sentenced Blankenship Wednesday to one to three years in prison with a fine of $3,000 plus court costs on the driving while license revoked for DUI, third or subsequent offense charge.
An additional year in jail, to run consecutively, was added to her sentence for the charge of no insurance, along with a $1,000 fine. Blankenship was fined an additional $500 for the charge of no registration. Blankenship will receive credit for time served in the amount of 234 days.
Blankenship requested an alternative sentence so she could help care for her children and her mother.
"My mom was in a car accident and she is very ill. She needs someone at home to take care of her..." Blankenship said. "My kids and my mother need me way more than the jailhouse does."
Blankenship's defense attorney, Dennis Willett, also requested an alternative sentence for Blankenship, saying he didn't believe her charges warranted jail time.
"Ms. Blankenship has been incarcerated on this charge since January, so about 240-some days, and I think that, as far as incarceration goes, this will serve to press upon her the consequence of her conduct. I spoke with her this morning. She indicates that her mother's been very ill and she has a child she needs to be able to take care of," Willett said.
"I think that the court would be served, given that she has served so much time in jail at this point on this charge, that the court should consider granting her the alternative sentence of home confinement. That way, judge, we will be able to know that she is off the street, that she is not going out anywhere in a vehicle or anything. This is a driving revoked for DUI, I just don't know if this is the kind of sentence we want to
send someone to the penitentiary on," he added.
Lori Haynes, a Randolph County assistant prosecuting attorney, objected to an alternative sentence.
"She (Blankenship) has a serious history of substance abuse problems and a significant criminal history," Haynes said. "Your honor, the state had not sought a recidivist treatment in this matter. This would be her second one (felony) as she was previously convicted of possession with intent to deliver, so the state has, in essence, given her a break with regard to that.
"For those reasons, the state's recommendation is not an alternative sentence. It would be that she serve the one to three years and the minimum $3,000 fine," Haynes said,
Upon issuing the sentence, Keadle spent nearly 15 minutes reading Blankenship's extensive criminal history aloud.
"Ms. Blankenship, I am amazed at your past criminal record..." Keadle said. "You have a long career of dealing with police officers."