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Ironton woman gets five years in prison for escape charge

An Ironton woman discovered last week that disobeying a judge’s order to report to prison can have serious consequences.

Heather Thornsbury, 36, of 182 Township Road 253 E., was sentenced to 24 months in prison after she pleaded no contest to one count of escape.

Thornsbury failed to turn herself in to authorities on time to begin serving a 36-month prison sentence for one count of endangering children.

Under Ohio law, an escape conviction carries a mandatory prison sentence of up to three years that must be served concurrently to any other prison sentence.

Thornsbury pleaded guilty to endangering children Nov. 30, 2011, and was ordered to report to the Lawrence County Jail Dec. 12 so she could be taken to the women’s prison in Marysville. She did not do what she was ordered to do. She turned herself in two months later.

Thornsbury’s attorney, Philip Heald, had first sought to have the escape charge dismissed. He said she did not walk away from any sort of incarceration or confinement; she was out on bond and simply did not turn herself into authorities on the scheduled date to begin serving her sentence.

“We believe the facts of the case, even if they are as the state alleges, are not legally sufficient for a finding as to the escape charge,” Heald said.

Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Jeff Smith argued Thornsbury had been in jail prior to making bond and did not report to jail as she was directed to do, hence the escape charge, which state law allows under these circumstances.

“I do not see any distinguishing features,” Smith said of Thornsbury’s situation.

Bowling sided with Smith.

“I ask the court to make the sentence as lenient as possible,” Heald asked. “She wanted to see her kids one more time (before being sent to prison) and went to Virginia and then she couldn’t get back. It doesn’t make it right. She knows what she did was wrong.”

Heald asked Bowling to issue a stay (a delay) in imposing the prison sentence on the escape charge because Thornsbury intended to appeal her conviction and sentence.

“I didn’t intend to disrespect the court,” Thornsbury said. “I just wanted to say goodbye to my kids.”

Bowling said he would defer any request for a stay of sentence to the Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals, which will hear the case next.

Smith said Thornsbury was charged with endangering children after her 14-year-old daughter was seriously injured in a four-wheeler accident and Thornsbury waited days before taking the child to see a doctor. By the time the child was given medical care she was experiencing paralysis.