Pushing back at the pushers

January 17, 2014 

Madison County prosecutors have been especially busy lately making sure the detritus of the drug culture rests on the shoulders of those providing the drugs. Prosecutors recently scored a win and a loss.

On Jan. 10, Debra Nelson, of Granite City, was sentenced to 10 years for the drug-induced homicide of a teen. She sold liquid methadone that was given to and killed Dylan Hartman, 19, of Granite City.

Nelson must serve at least 75 percent of her sentence, but another recent case shows just how fluid state sentences can be.

Angella Halliday, 30, of Moro, was responsible for two heroin deaths but pleaded guilty to two lesser felony drug charges in 2012. She was sentenced to four years, but got out of state prison in May.

Two months after gaining her freedom and while still on parole, she was in her long-time friend's Wood River apartment. The woman overdosed and might be dead but for the paramedics.

Halliday caught a partial break. The jury found her not guilty of aggravated battery after the defense challenged whether she actually injected her friend.

But Halliday also admitted using heroin. Parole violation. She's headed back to state prison for 15 months.

After the Halliday verdict, Madison County State's Attorney Thomas Gibbons said he was disappointed because his staff worked hard on the case. He vowed to continue the fight.

Halliday is a college grad with a philosophy degree. When she was sentenced in 2012, she told the judge she realized every person's life is linked to everyone else's. "The whole time I was chasing heroin, I was unaware of the damage it was doing."

Her courtroom epiphany didn't stick, but maybe some of the dealers and addicts will think twice about doing their rehab behind bars as long as Gibbons is dedicated to making them face the damage they are doing.

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