Pregnant Centralia woman pleads guilty in drug deals

The Chronicle (Centralia)February 10, 2013 

The pregnant Centralia woman arrested in early January for selling real marijuana to minors and fake meth to adults pleaded guilty to three felony drug charges Friday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

The bizarre case began when the woman, 31-year-old Melisa F. Akers, called police shortly after 5 a.m. on Jan. 6 to report that a man and a woman were trying to break into her house and were threatening her with a gun, according to court documents.

The pair were gone by the time police arrived to her residence on the 1400 block of Johnson Road, according to court documents. Akers, however, told police that the reason the man and woman were trying to hurt her was because she sold them fake meth, which was later identified as table salt, for $20. The man and the woman had left the residence with the fake meth and realized a short time later that they had been duped.

When police responded to investigate the incident, however, they smelled what was believed to be marijuana and saw three teenage boys in Akers’ living room, according to Centralia police. Akers confirmed to police that the odor was indeed marijuana, and admitted to selling it to the teenagers, ages 15, 16 and 17.

She was charged with distribution of a controlled substance to a person younger than 18, delivery of a counterfeit substance and possession of a controlled substance after meth was later located in her apartment. On Friday, she pleaded guilty as charged to all counts.

Akers appeared in court Friday, pregnant and out of custody. She was initially booked into the Lewis County Jail but was released shortly after on an unsecured $10,000 appearance bond.

When pregnant women are booked into jail, the county is responsible for all of their medical costs, according to jail staff. Often, the pregnant women booked into jail have little to no prenatal care, and their pregnancies are often high risk due to drug use and other factors. The cost of incarcerating a pregnant woman can spike if they need to be transported to a Seattle hospital for delivery.

Since her release in early January, Akers has moved back into her parents’ house and is under “constant” doctor’s care for a number of reasons, in addition to her pregnancy, her attorney Sam Groberg told the judge Friday. Akers is seven months pregnant and should deliver her baby in early April. Her pregnancy is considered to be high risk.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said it was his understanding that Akers suffers from developmental disabilities, adding that his main concern was to ensure that she will be capable of caring for the child during and after pregnancy.

When asked by Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt if his client was a drug user, Groberg answered “yes,” but the prosecution and Groberg agreed to make one of her conditions of release that she undergoes frequent drug testing by her doctor to ensure she remains drug-free throughout her pregnancy.

“Maybe I’m overprotective here, but you have more to worry about than you,” Hunt said. “That’s a huge concern.”

Akers will remain out of custody awaiting sentencing, which was set for early May, a few weeks after she is due to deliver the baby.

As a result of the plea agreement, both prosecutors and the defense agreed to recommend a family sentencing alternative, which may allow her to remain under Department of Corrections supervision without serving a prison sentence.

This alternative sentence is the result of the Washington Legislature passing a bill in 2010 that allows some nonviolent offenders, in certain circumstances, an alternative sentence rather than serve time in prison.

Akers will undergo a DOC risk-assessment evaluation to see if she is eligible, Meyer said. It is ultimately up to the state agency to see whether she will serve an out-of-custody sentence.

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