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Woman Who Struck Off-Duty Trooper With Car, Sentenced To Prison

Reported by: Send eMail Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Dec. 9, 2013 12:10 PM EST
Updated: Dec. 9, 2013 6:32 PM EST


Garretson Sentence
Eyewitness News Photo

Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

A very emotional day in the courtroom as the woman who nearly killed a state trooper with her car is sentenced to prison.

Jennifer Garretson called herself an educated woman, but an addict. She seemed to blame her addiction to prescription drugs on her actions on New Years Eve of 2012.

"I'm telling you Mr. Nichols, I am sorry. I never meant to hurt you or your family," Garretson said as she turned around to apologize to Sgt. Aaron Nichols.

Nichols said he believes Garretson has not taken responsibility for what she did almost a year ago.

"Ms. Garretson chose to steal, she chose to run, she chose to hit me with her car, she chose not to stop to let me of the back of her car and she decided to throw me from the car," Nichols said to the court.

Garretson was shoplifting from Goody's in Saint Albans when Nichols, who was off duty at the time, tried to stop her. He identified himself as a trooper, but Garretson continued to flee eventually throwing him from her car.

"She could be here facing a murder charge but for the grace of God, Trooper Nichols survived these injuries but he has injuries that will linger the rest of his life," said Kanawha County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Miller.

Nichols was in the hospital for 22 days suffering a fractured skull, broken wrist, and bleeding on his brain. He's also lost the ability to taste and smell, and 60% of the hearing in his left ear.

"There is no words to explain the loss of taste, or smell. The loss of my wife's or mother's cooking, or my favorite foods," he said.

Garretson's mother said he daughter was addicted to drugs, and called her before the accident that night wanting to get clean, but the next call was after that hit and run.

"Her first words were, 'mom I didn't mean to hurt anybody,'" said Sharon Harris.

Judge James Stucky sentenced her to two to ten years in prison for malicious wounding. That sentence will run consecutive to a one to ten year sentence she is currently serving for forgery and uttering.

Sgt. Nichols says he has been cleared to return to full duty with the state police on January 1, 2014.

A woman who struck an off-duty West Virginia state trooper with car car last year, then took off, was sentenced to prison Monday.

Jennifer Garretson will serve an indeterminate 2 to 10 year sentence with credit for time served on a malicious wounding charge. The sentence was imposed by Kanawha County Circuit Judge James Stucky.

She is currently serving a 1 to 10 year sentence on unrelated forgery and uttering charges. The new sentence will run consecutively to the time she is already serving.

Garretson had previously been accused of striking Sgt. Aaron Nichols with her vehicle on the night of Dec. 31, 2012.

"I am hurt deeply by the pain my family and friends have suffered," Sgt. Aaron Nichols said. Nichols lost a significant amount of hearing, and his sense of taste and smell after the incident.

Sharron Harris, the mother of Garretson also spoke at the sentencing, saying that her daughter was remorseful for what had happened and was planning to get clean the night the incident happened.

Previously, Garretson had been convicted on drug charges in Putnam County, and was put on probation, but violated that probation, according to Prosecutor Chuck Miller.

"She could be here facing a murder charge but by the grace of God, Trooper Nichols survived his injuries," Miller said.

During the sentencing, Garretson called herself an addict and apologized, saying her never meant to hurt Nichols or his family.

"I am sorry for what happened that day and I hope the court has mercy on me," she said.

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