CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Kanawha County woman was sentenced to prison for two to 10 years for hitting an off-duty state trooper last year in a parking lot.
Jennifer Garretson, 35, was remanded to Lakin Correctional Center by Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jim Stucky Monday.
Before he handed down the sentence, Garretson’s victim, Sgt. Aaron Nichols, took the stand to make a victim impact statement.
“She continues to fail to accept responsibility,” said Nichols.
Garretson confessed earlier this year to shoplifting from the Goody’s Store in St. Albans on Jan. 31, 2012. Nichols, who was not in uniform at the time, tried to stop Garretson. She got into her car, put it in reverse, struck Nichols and then fled. She turned herself in to police two days later.
“Ms. Garretson chose to steal. She chose to run. She chose to hit me with her car. She chose not to stop to let me off the back of her car. And she decided to throw me from her car,” Nichols testified.
Also taking the stand was Jennifer’s mother, Sharon Harris, who was in a wheelchair and on oxygen. She described her daughter as a “good girl.” She said Jennifer never meant to hurt anyone.
Garretson also spoke on her own behalf telling the judge she made some bad choices.
“I’m an educated individual but I’m also an addict,” she admitted.
Garretson said she became dependent upon pills while working as a state counselor with abused children. At one point Monday she turned to apologize to Nichols and said, “I’m telling you Mr. Nichols, I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you or your family.” The trooper, however, refused to look at Garretson as she spoke.
Garretson said she has a set of goals for her incarceration.
“No matter what, I plan to spend the next two years there in [drug] treatment to change myself,” she said.
Judge Stucky decided not to grant leniency.
“Said sentence is to run consecutive to and not concurrent with the sentence imposed by this court.”
Despite that sentence, Nichols, who has returned to the job, said it won’t give him back his sense of taste and smell as well as hearing he lost in the collision.
Garretson will be eligible for parole in 2014.