Eyedrop Case Nets 2-4 Years
A McConnellsburg woman who repeatedly tainted her child’s father’s drinking water with eyedrops causing him to seek specialized medical treatment for several years was remanded to the custody of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday to begin a state sentence.
Character witnesses referred to 33-year-old Vickie Jo Mills as compassionate, caring and selfless as part of the testimony given during a 1-1/2 hour sentencing proceeding before Fulton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Shawn Meyers on February 12. Those same witnesses would go on to reveal their own or a loved one’s struggle with disorders such as bipolar, depression, post traumatic stress and borderline personality disorder, all issues brought to light in a recent mental health evaluation of Mills.
In addressing the court, a teary-eyed Mills told Judge Meyers she felt lost and empty for a very long period of time. She said she had been too ashamed to seek help and several attempts to obtain assistance had failed. She has, however, been in counseling since September 2012, one month following her arrest by Pennsylvania State Police in Mc- Connellsburg for 10 counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
Meanwhile, Mills stated she would regret her actions for the remainder of her life and that her public apology to former boyfriend Thurman “Tom” Nesbitt III would never erase the horrible feelings he must carry for her. Mills also apologized to her young daughter, whom she referred to as “her lifeline.” She added that not being a full-time mother in recent months has been punishment enough.
Character witnesses all informed the judge they believed incarceration would not be a benefit to her relationship with her daughter, and Mills could possibly regress if the good rapport established with a local psychiatrist and a counselor is broken.
“She’s described by many as being selfless and helpful to others,” said Fulton County Public Defender Dwight Harvey. “ ... All of her years of good behavior ought to count for something.”
Asking for credit of sorts for her years of selflessness, Harvey presented sentencing options to the court such as time in the county prison with work release.
District Attorney Travis Kendall pointed out that the commonwealth has shown leniency throughout the entire process. However, prior incidents in Mills’ life don’t excuse the poisoning of her child’s father, he said. He added that Nesbitt was “seriously injured” over a period of years and was lifeflighted to Hershey Medical immediately after the first incident.
In an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case, state police investigator Trooper Richard Cutchall was alerted of Nesbitt’s ongoing physical ailments last July when local physician Dr. Harry Johnston reported his suspicions of tainted drinking water. The doctor reportedly told police he had been treating Nesbitt for several years for a variety of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, drastic dips and eleva- tions in blood pressure, and difficulty breathing.
In an interview with police, Mills admitted to putting Visine ® drops in Nesbitt’s water since 2009. Furthermore, she alleged she never meant to kill him but wanted him to give her more attention. A search of the couple’s residence at 18250 Great Cove Road in Ayr Township resulted in police finding a number of empty bottles of Visine® as well as several full bottles.
After hearing the testimony, reviewing a packet of character references as well as a presentence investigation report and a victim impact statement, Judge Meyers said he was certainly saddened to hear of Mills’ trials and tribulations in life. He was unwilling, though, to turn the case upside down and focus on what has happened to her over the years. He also noted his concern that the victim in the case has been unable or unwilling to vocalize to the court his needs because of drawing unwanted attention.
“For three years he suffered harm,” the judge said of Nesbitt. “The most frightening part is that it really did go undiagnosed.”
While her apology was an important step in this process, the judge stated he could not create a two-tiered system for sentencing purposes that would take into account needs of individuals with children in comparison to those without. The judge further noted that even though Mills has a daughter who is dependent on her, it was not the court that brought her to this point but Mills herself.
He closed out the sentencing proceeding by ordering Mills to complete between two and four years in a state correctional institution for first-degree felony aggravated assault. She was given credit for one day previously served. While incarcerated, she is slated to undergo any necessary mental health evaluations and treatment. She is forbidden to ever contact Nesbitt or his family.