Judge orders probation in Harden case
HUNTINGTON — Tonya Harden, who was found guilty of murdering her husband before the Supreme Court overturned the conviction three years ago, was sentenced to probation Thursday on an unrelated drug charge.
The 36-year-old, of Culloden, had pleaded guilty to obtaining a controlled substance by fraudulent misrepresentation.
Harden apologized Thursday. She already had admitted to altering a prescription to include hydrocodone after she saw a doctor for severe headaches.
Public defender Kim Carrico said Harden had visited an emergency room with injuries dating back to physical abuse inflicted years earlier by her deceased husband. That visit ended with a prescription for hydrocodone. Harden sought more of the drug from another physician, but the defense said that doctor ordered a substitute and she altered his prescription.
“I don’t believe Ms. Harden is a hardened drug addict or a threat to society,” Carrico said. “I believe she is a person who can, and has shown the court that she can, stay out of trouble.”
Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell accepted Harden’s apology and Carrico’s argument in placing the defendant on 2 years probation with required drug treatment. He also suspended a 1- to 3-year prison sentence and provided probation with 30 days of discretionary jail time should a violation occur.
“Don’t use drugs,” he said. “It’s just that simple. If you use drugs, you’re going to prison.”
Harden walked out of prison June 4, 2009, when the state Supreme Court of Appeals overturned a first-degree murder conviction and life sentence for the killing of her husband, Danuel L. Harden.
The 34-year-old died Sept. 5, 2004, at the couple’s Culloden home following a night of fighting, threats and abuse. Prosecutors had argued Harden killed out of revenge. They said she chose to shoot him with a shotgun, instead of escaping with him half asleep.
In disagreeing, the Supreme Court reversed precedent and set forth new case law regarding self-defense and domestic violence. The 4-1 decision removed a victim’s duty to retreat a jointly owned residence, and states prior violence is relevant in determining the person’s state of mind when deciding to use deadly force.