A pregnant woman due in June will spend more than 2 1/2 years in prison for robbing a pharmacy of OxyContin last year.
Sunshine L. "Sunny" VanCleave, 35, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery Wednesday for using a BB gun to rob the Bi Mart in Deer Park of the powerful painkiller on Nov. 2. Her accomplice, James C. Hutson, 24, was given the same 31-month sentence in May.
After her arrest, VanCleave swallowed a handful of OxyContin and was treated at a local hospital, where she’s accused of strangling a nurse with a phone cord. She's expected to plead guilty to a third-degree assault charge and will be given a sentence to run concurrent with the robbery sentence, said Deputy Prosecutor Tony Hazel.
VanCleave had no criminal history until her marriage fell apart a couple years ago and she started to "self medicate" with OxyContin, public defender Jeff Compton said.
Compton asked for Judge Maryann Moreno to spare VanCleave a prison sentence because of her health problems and other reasons, but Moreno said her health concerns can be addressed by the Washington Department of Corrections.
Hazel said he was concerned "that she may resort back to drug use while she's pregnant." VanCleave completed a drug addiction treatment program and said "I feel like I won't ever go back to (drugs) ever again."
Moreno said it was sad to see her sent to prison, but that the Legislature sets the sentencing standard for charges, and the prosecutor's office won't budge on the first-degree robbery charge if a gun was involved.
As her two other children cried quietly, VanCleave's oldest daughter asked Moreno to change her mind after the sentence was handed down.
"I would really, really love to spend this Christmas with her," she said. "Both of our parents have pretty much abandoned us, and now one of them is coming back and she's being sent to prison?"
VanCleave spoke with The Spokesman-Review about her OxyContin addiction in January, saying "The devil got his grips in me really bad, and my kids are suffering for it."
Read that story here.