BRATTLEBORO — A 33-year-old Brattleboro woman was sentenced to an additional year in jail Friday after she pleaded guilty to charges she escaped state supervision last year while on furlough.
Windham Superior Court Judge Michael Kainen sentenced Holly Rhodes to an additional three months to a year for the escape from furlough.
Rhodes was serving a sentence for burglary of an occupied dwelling, and while she was on the lam, she committed a similar offense in Northfield.
She broke into a home and stole a pocketbook, court testimony said.
Kainen, detailing the convoluted and far-from-clear sentencing and parole guidelines, agreed to a shorter minimum sentence, and gave his blessing to a plan that Rhodes is eventually discharged to live with her uncle at his home in Charlestown, N.H.
Rhodes, who is currently serving a 36-month sentence for the 2021 Northfield crime, said she violated her parole in 2020, during COVID-19 restrictions, in large part because she wanted to see her three children.
Rhodes had been released at that time to the RISE program in Brattleboro, but the Department of Corrections' GPS tracker on her showed she was where she shouldn't have been — in a cemetery and at a pull-off along a road.
Rhodes has a criminal record that includes nine felony convictions, according to Windham County Deputy State's Attorney David Gartenstein. Gartenstein said she had convictions of burglary, larceny, forgery, possession of stolen property and burglary of an occupied dwelling, among others.
She has been convicted, he said, "of breaking into people's homes repeatedly."
Rhodes could be paroled at her minimum sentence, which would be reached in March 2023.
Her attorney, Daniel Stevens, said Rhodes is currently serving a nine- to 36-month sentence for the Northfield burglary, with her maximum release date in April 2026.
But because of the convoluted way the Department of Corrections calculates sentences, Stevens said, he was actually arguing for a longer sentence than Gartenstein.
Rhodes' uncle, Edward Paterson, 68, of Charlestown, N.H., said he and his wife could offer Rhodes her own room in their home. He said he, his wife and his uncle Calvin all live together.
While she was on escape status in 2021, Paterson said Rhodes did not contact him, and he told Gartenstein that he wouldn't hesitate to call authorities if Rhodes violated conditions of her release.
She struggles with heroin addiction, he said.
"I want her to do right. She has kids," he said. "It's hard to get off that heroin. ... I love her very dearly."
Paterson said her three children live with other relatives, and she has lost custody of them.
"Her children are her life," he said, and he said he wants to help her regain custody, adding that the children "were not happy" not seeing their mother.
Rhodes apologized when it was her turn to speak. "Your honor, I'm sorry. I take full responsibility," she said. "I know my life hasn't always been easy."
Kainen told her she had "a real awful record," and a poor record of supervision with the Department of Corrections.
Kainen said he believes Rhodes is better off in Charlestown with her uncle, rather than at the RISE program in downtown Brattleboro.