Thief with long history asks judge for drug court

HOLLIDAYSBURG – An Altoona woman whose criminal record dates back a decade, has asked Blair County Judge Daniel J. Milliron to admit her to the county’s drug treatment program rather than send her to a state correctional institution.

Ashley Barnhill appeared before Milliron on Friday morning on five charges of theft and related offenses. Through her attorney, Assistant Public Defender Joseph Hartye, she indicated that she wanted entry into the program that focuses primarily on treatment and carries a short jail term.

Milliron said because he is not as familiar with the procedures for Drug Court, which is supervised by President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva, he didn’t know if it would be possible for Barnhill, 29, to enter it.

However, he did suggest that Barnhill’s lengthy prior record, dating back to 2002 according to the Court of Common Pleas dockets, may prevent her from acceptance into Drug Court.

“It’s huge. It’s huge,” said Milliron as he commented on Barnhill’s criminal record.

Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio is opposing Barnhill’s entry into Drug Court. While Consiglio’s opinion may not be the deciding factor, Milliron said it is an important consideration.

Hartye pointed out to Milliron that Barnhill, despite her record, does not have a history of violence.

Her record shows she has a history of theft, and a theft case is what brought her to court on Friday.

The charges against her included an incident on Sept. 12, when she and another woman went to the Altoona Kmart store and loaded a 40-inch TV into a cart and stole it. When confronted, she said the TV had been placed on layaway and she was just retrieving it.

She also took a computer from Walmart on Aug. 26, the charges stated.

In addition, she leased a bedroom set and two carpets at Premier Rental Purchase but never made payments.

On March 17, she was charged with taking two TV sets from Walmart. Four days later, she was charged with taking three more.

The total of the stolen goods came to almost $7,000.

Milliron did not sentence Barnhill but instead ordered a presentence investigation and said he will impose her sentence within 90 days.

Even if Barnhill is not admitted to the county’s drug treatment program, she could be eligible for a state treatment program, Milliron noted.

Hartye said he was pleased that Milliron will give him the chance to argue Barnhill’s case for admission to Drug Court.