BOONE — A woman who was sentenced to serve a minimum of two years and five months as an active jail sentence after pleading guilty to felony hit and run leaving serious injury, felony death by vehicle and DWI was given a modified sentence in April and arrested in July for violating her parole.
Makala Lee O’Brien, 20, of 11222 U.S. 421 S., Trade, Tenn., pleaded guilty in Watauga Superior Court to those charges on Nov. 14. The charges were a result of an incident on Aug. 5, 2017, after the then-18-year-old left a party off of N.C. 105 driving a Ford Ranger and struck two individuals who were walking along the shoulder of the road and subsequently left the scene of the collision.
One of the pedestrians — 26-year-old Adam Hamilton Greer — died at the scene. Timothy William Watson, 28, was “very seriously injured,” according to District Attorney Seth Banks.
Superior Court Judge Gary Gavenus handed down a split sentence, meaning O’Brien was to serve active jail time at the Watauga County Detention Center with a probationary period of five years to be served thereafter.
However, this judgment was modified when O’Brien desired to “serve her active time in the custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections,” according to a motion to amend the judgment entered by O’Brien’s attorney on March 20.
But instead, O’Brien was accepted into a two-year, residential substance abuse recovery program in Durham. According to O’Brien’s violation report, a modification order was signed on April 17 allowing O’Brien to be released from the Watauga County Detention Center to enter into the treatment program in Durham. O’Brien entered into the program the following day and “willfully left” the program on April 29.
The violation report was entered on July 2 and stated that O’Brien had failed to make herself available to supervision and had not made efforts to contact her supervising officer. At this time she was determined to be absconding supervision.
“All efforts to locate the defendant by her supervising probation officer has been unsuccessful,” according to the violation report.
O’Brien was arrested and charged with felony probation violation on July 11, according to the arrest report. She was issued a $15,000 secured bond and a Sept. 3 Superior Court date when the probation violation is scheduled to be heard.
O’Brien had a hearing in Yancey County in front of Gavenus on July 16 where the family members of the victims were present, according to Banks. At this hearing Gavenus conducted the appointment of counsel as well as modified O’Brien’s bond to $150,000. If O’Brien were to make bond, she was ordered to not leave Watauga County and to report to a probation officer weekly about her whereabouts, according to Gavenus’ notes on O’Brien’s conditions of release order.
When O’Brien was originally sentenced in November, Banks said that O’Brien would serve the balance of her suspended sentence set by Gavenus if probationary terms were violated. The suspended sentence stood at a minimum of five years and four months to a maximum of seven years and five months in the Department of Corrections on the felony death by vehicle charge as well as a minimum of one year and four months to two years and five months on the felony hit/run leaving serious injury charge.
These suspended sentences would run consecutively if activated, according to Banks at the time. On July 17, he said the conditions of the suspended sentence had not changed, to his knowledge.