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Woman gets five years for drugs found after July car chase

A Mitchell woman arrested in July after a car chase was sentenced Tuesday morning to spend nearly five years in prison for possessing and selling methamphetamine.

Malissa Garmong, 28, was sentenced to a 10-year sentence with six years suspended for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and consecutively to a five-year sentence with three years suspended for possession of a controlled substance. The court gave her credit on each charge for 220 days served in the Davison County Jail.

In addition to paying fines, court and prosecution costs and court-appointed attorney’s fees associated with the case, Garmong was ordered to pay $2,300 in restitution to the owner of a car she damaged while out on bond last fall.

Garmong was arrested on July 11 when police found her and 36-year-old Bernard Drapeau III in a parking lot following a car chase early that morning in Mitchell. Garmong was first charged with four drug offenses, and additional drug charges, as well as a charge of possessing a firearm with an altered serial number, were filed against her later that afternoon when law enforcement executed search warrants on her car and backpack.

Law enforcement said those search warrants yielded about a half pound of methamphetamine, four kinds of pills, $300 in cash, a gun, scales and additional drug paraphernalia.

Garmong pleaded guilty to the two charges on Jan. 22, and the state dropped seven additional felony charges that had been filed against her in the same case.

Counsel has noted during previous hearings that prior to her arrest, Garmong had no criminal history. Prior to being sentenced, Garmong said that she sold drugs after moving out of a house last year to get away from her husband.

“If you look at my history, then you can see that this is not normal behavior for me,” she said.

“... Things got worse when I moved out, and I started using drugs pretty heavily, and it was just a domino effect.”

Deputy State’s Attorney Douglas Barnett said during the hearing that while reading the pre-sentence investigation report, he thought Garmong’s history was similar to that of many people who start with marijuana at a young age and escalate into using other drugs.

“This PSI reads like a roadmap, a blueprint if you will, of how someone becomes a drug dealer,” he said.

Garmong’s attorney, E. Steeves Smith, said that progression began when Garmong was in high school and experienced multiple health issues that led her to take prescription drugs.

Barnett said that while Garmong accepted responsibility for her actions and that she’s complied with the conditions of the plea agreement, he wasn’t sure if she fully understood the consequences of selling large amounts of methamphetamine, which he said leaves “a trail of wrecked lives and carnage” that justifies a lengthy prison sentence.

“This is what an addict does,” Smith said. “This is what a person does that has not had treatment.”

Smith said those conditions with which Garmong cooperated included disclosing information that led to law enforcement conducting what he called “clearouts,” as well as confessing to damaging the vehicle for which she was ordered to pay restitution.

Judge Chris Giles said he suspended a significant amount of prison time because he thought Garmong would need that hanging over her head to deter her from reoffending.

Garmong’s co-defendant, Drapeau, pleaded guilty Friday to three charges in connection with the July incident and a separate offense in December while he was out on bond. He faces up to 15 years in prison for those charges and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 21.

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