A Fredonia woman who should have gone to prison on drug and endangerment convictions instead received probation because of strides she’s made in her addiction recovery.
Valarie R. Charboneau, now Valarie R. Troester, 28, appeared in Labette County District Court last week for sentencing. The hearing took place over the Zoom online meeting platform. She pleaded in October to distribution of methamphetamine (1 to 3.5 grams) and aggravated child endangerment, both felonies.
Troester and James C. Yeoman, 45, were arrested Jan. 15, 2019, after a police investigation and a search revealed 2.7 grams of meth in a bedroom the two shared at 2500 Corning. The investigation began with a report of battery against Troester’s sister. During the investigation, police saw a firearm and contraband in plain view and got a search warrant. During the search, a child was removed from the home and sent to live with family.
Yeoman received a prison term for drug possession and child endangerment. He is eligible for parole in late August, according to the Kansas Department of Corrections website.
Troester was sentenced on Friday. Her attorney, Brandon Cameron, asked Judge Steve Stockard to depart from sentencing law and grant his client probation based on her progress of treating her addiction and her work record since her arrest in 2019.
Troester faced prison on the convictions because of her criminal history and because she was on parole supervision at the time of her arrest. In order to get probation, Cameron had to show compelling reasons for Troester to remain in the community.
Cameron used testimony from Troester and her mother, among others, to make that point.
Troester is Sherrie and John Nichols’ eldest daughter. She has been working for them about a year, and with her husband, Bill, she helped open their new meat market in Fredonia in August. Since then, Sherrie Nichols said her daughter has become knowledgeable in the business and improved her meat cutting skills. Troester’s work ethic is exceptional, Nichols testified.
Nichols testified that her daughter’s addiction recovery was helped by moving out of Parsons and entering a recovery program in Wichita.
“She has changed tremendously. She has a better outlook on life, and she has a willingness to help people now,” Nichols said.
Nichols testified, when asked about plans in case Troester returns to drugs, that as far as she knows drugs are in her daughter’s past.
Troester testified she has remorse for the crimes committed in 2019, a time when she was struggling with addiction.
“And I just didn’t care about anyone or anything that was going on in my life,” she said.
“It’s not something that I ever want to go through again or to put anyone I care about through again,” she said of her addiction.
She moved since then, completed a treatment program in Wichita and has a different outlook on life. She also got married.
Troester testified that her life changed when her first husband was killed in 2014 in a vehicle accident. Troester said she got mixed up with the wrong people and used drugs to replace her husband. She entered the Wichita fellowship club in July 2019 and resided in a sober living house. She still has contact with the club leader.
She testified that she knows the triggers that could return her to drugs, and she plans to call her children and the fellowship club leader if problems arise.
“I used to think that I didn’t want to be around my kids because I was going to hurt them because of my drug use. But now I know that my kids are what keep me sober,” Troester said.
She wants to foster relationships with her children as part of her recovery. Her son was raised by grandparents; she sees him a lot and has video visits with her daughter weekly. She would like for her son to return to her home and hopes to have visitation with her daughter.
Troester said she shares details of her life with customers in the meat market and that brings people closer to her family’s business. This follows her adopted philosophy of the only way to keep what you have is to give it away.
Troester said her parents didn’t talk to her during her addiction. Now they have given her a chance to work in their business after they saw what she had accomplished. She worked hard to rebuild that relationship with her parents, she said.
Labette County Attorney Stephen Jones said he agreed to recommend probation for Troester, and with what he heard from testimony on Friday he has no reason to change that recommendation.
Cameron said he presented compelling reasons for Stockard to grant his client probation rather than send her to prison, and he reviewed the evidence. Troester has completed a drug treatment program and has remained sober since. She has repaired her relationship with her parents and now works full time in their business in Fredonia and excels at it. She also has support for her recovery.
“I believe that the evidence is clear and convincing that my client has completely changed her life around,” Cameron said.
Stockard sentenced Troester to a controlling 68 months in prison on the charges. He said the sentence was presumed prison and was compounded by the fact that she was on parole when she committed it. He has concerns about Troester but said Cameron made a successful plea for probation.
“He recognized that you are on the precipice of going back to prison …” Stockard said. Troester served a prison term on a Neosho County conviction for aggravated escape.
Stockard said he has practiced law for years and can tell by a person’s presentation if he or she is dedicated to change.
“I am convinced that you have dedicated yourself to a life of sobriety,” Stockard said, adding that it will be a lifelong struggle for her. He commended her on her efforts toward sober living and rehabilitation.
Stockard suspended the prison term and assigned Troester to probation through community corrections for three years. Troester will have to register as a drug offender in Kansas.
He reminded Troester that she would not get another chance if she returned to drug use and crime. He added that he has confidence she is dedicated to sobriety.
In a separate case, Tyrell L. Dorsey, 19, of Parsons pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance, aggravated domestic battery, both felonies, and possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal trespass, both misdemeanors. The crimes occurred Oct. 12, 2020, at 23rd and Clark when Dorsey was seen choking a woman. He ran as police arrived and was caught and arrested. Police found a baggie that contained methamphetamine in his jacket pocket. Dorsey will be sentenced on April 2. He also received a new attorney, Daniel Reynolds, because his current attorney, Brandon Cameron, has taken employment elsewhere and will not be here to represent him at sentencing. Dorsey was also released from jail as his $30,000 cash bond was changed to a personal recognizance bond. He is expected to get probation and two other pending criminal cases will be dismissed at sentencing. While on release, Dorsey is to avoid contact with victims and witnesses.