Pubdate: Thu, 26 Apr 2007 Source: Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV) Copyright: 2007 Nevada Appeal Contact: http://www.nevadaappeal.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/896 Author: Teri Vance Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/women.htm (Women) Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/meth.htm (Methamphetamine) Series: Imprisoned By Meth: Mary's Story (5 Of 5) PART V: THE PIPER Silhouetted by a low-hanging, orange August moon, Mary looks small. She's standing in the parking lot of Rail City, a Sparks casino. "They're after me," she says. The moon, nearly red from the fire burning in the west Reno hills, casts an eerie, ominous glow. There's been a string of storage-unit burglaries in Carson City and Mary Reasoner is the prime suspect. She says she didn't do it. But no one's going to believe her - not with her history of burglary - so she's leaving town. She doesn't know where she's going ... maybe to the Midwest. She just knows she has to run far enough that they won't find her. The bed of her white pickup is filled to overflowing and covered with a tarp. She's nervous. Although she's hungry, she doesn't want to go inside the casino to eat. She doesn't want anyone looking inside her truck. Paranoia takes over. "I feel like I'm being set up," she repeats, pacing in back of her truck and straining to see the street to watch for police cars. "I haven't even done anything wrong this time," she cries. "I'm f'ing running just so my kids don't have to have their mom in jail again." She's ready to start a new life. "I've got a couple of cute suits," she says. "I just need some shoes. Then I can look for a job." Money's scarce: $6. But she'll figure something out. She calls home. Ryan gets on the phone. "What baby?" she asks. She covers her face with her free hand and cries. "Don't cry," she says into the phone. She lights a cigarette, leans against the truck and explains to her now 9-year-old son why she had to leave. "I don't know what's f'ing going on with the cops, but know this, I'm innocent. And I'm scared. And I don't want to go to jail." "... Don't cry," she soothes. Ryan doesn't want her to leave, but she tells him that if she returns home she'll be arrested. "What do you want mommy to do?" she asks. "Do you want mommy to go to jail? What do you want mommy to do?" They compromise: She'll come home to say good-bye. "Just know this," she tells her youngest son, "I f--ing love you so f--ing much, it makes me sick. "I'll see you tomorrow, and we'll decide what I should do as a family. Just me, you and brother - no f--ing guy." She ends with a promise. "No matter what happens, one of these days I'm going to get it," she says. "I can't tell you when." She puts $4 worth of gas in the tank to get home. She spends the rest on two gas-station taquitos. Less than a week later, on Aug. 22, Laura Haugen receives a call from the manager of her storage units. He says some units were broken into early that morning, and hers may have been one of them. When she gets to her unit on Sutro Terrace, she sees green tissue paper strewn in the driveway - the same tissue paper she used to wrap her crystals and stones, among other items stored inside. She grabs for the padlock on the door, and it falls apart in her hands. Lifting open the door, she notices her stereo is missing as are the speakers. Everything's in disarray, so she can't be sure exactly what was taken but she knows her xylophone and ukalin are both gone. She walks across the street to call police from a pay phone. Carson City sheriff's deputies Glen Fair and Jason Bueno respond. They join the owner of the units to review surveillance footage from the early morning hours. At 4:44 a.m., a car is seen driving into the facility and two people, a man and a woman, get out of the car. The driver leaves and the two figures move about in the darkness. The car returns, and when the woman walks in front of it, Deputy Fair recognizes her. "That's Mary Reasoner!" he exclaims. The owner goes through the gate logs and sees the access code used to enter four times between 4:44 and 5:36 that morning - coinciding with the surveillance footage - belongs to Mary. The next afternoon Carson City Sheriff's detective Dave LeGros gets a phone call from a pawn shop at the east end of town. He'd left his number with similar shops around town more than a month ago when the first burglary was reported at a storage unit, where the break-in times coincided with times Mary used her pass code. Now she's suspected in more than 11 storage-unit burglaries, amounting to more than $15,000 worth of stolen property. LeGros had asked all pawn-shop owners to call if she tried to hawk items. By the time he gets to Capital City Loans, she's gone. But the description of the car matches Mary's mom's car, so he sends deputies and detectives to the house on Nye Lane, the one Mary's grandmother owns and shares with Mary's mother and two boys. As detectives drive up, they see Mary and the man from the video unloading items from the trunk of the car and carrying them to a storage shed alongside the home. When he sees the cops, the man takes off running. He's got a limp, so detective Keith Bopko easily catches him. He's Mary's cousin, Michael Pierson. Deputy Bueno recognizes the driver from the video. It's Mary's mom, Katherine Brisby. Mary's mom gives consent to search. Among other items they suspect are stolen, detectives recover the stereo and speakers Haugen reported missing. They arrest Mary. At her Sept. 18 arraignment on charges of burglary, the prosecution's witness doesn't show. Mary's attorney, Ben Walker, requests she be released on her own recognizance until another date is set. Prosecutor Anne Langer disagrees, "Ms. Reasoner has been in the system for so long. It's a sad case to see her back in this court. Believe me, we've done everything we can for her. Now she's ripping people off. I think she should be on bail." Justice of the Peace Robey Willis lets her out of jail. She's arrested again Dec. 3 for probation violation when police find a bag with trace amounts of meth inside her backpack. Although she tests negative for meth use, Langer isn't convinced Mary's clean. "She's 25 pounds thinner than she usually is," Langer tells the judge. "And look at those lesions on her face." Mary's once again released without bail. This time, she vows to make the most of her freedom. "I'm going to be a full-blown mama. I'm going to be home every night," she says, preparing for the worst-case scenario of being sentenced to prison. "I want to turn my life over to God," she says. "I wanna change before I go to prison. I want my kids to love me - I've already screwed up their lives." Ryan doesn't want to see his mom go to prison, but if she does, he hopes it changes her. "It's kind of good, then she could learn her lesson," he says. She commits to being more involved with her boys, and shows up at Ryan's Cub Scout meeting. While the other mothers direct the boys through the process of presenting the flags for the Pledge of Allegiance, Mary stands in the corner. She makes no attempt to speak to the other mothers, and they don't acknowledge her. "Next time I'll have to wear a long skirt and penny loafers," she jokes quietly. Ryan settles in with the other scouts to make a wooden car, and Mary leaves to smoke a cigarette in the parking lot of the church. She doesn't go back in. She doesn't attend any more scout meetings. Wearing a black, button-down, knee-length dress, Mary watches as the 12 people who will decide her fate are chosen. Sitting before Judge William Maddox, her hopes of going free are battling against rising fears as jurors are shown the video. The defense argues it's not clear from the choppy footage whether Mary actually enters Haugen's storage unit, or if she's walking down the hallway to her own unit just feet away. Mary's mother, Kathy, testifies she drove Mary and Michael to the storage units so Mary could "straighten up her things." She says neither she nor Mary knew what Michael, who pleaded guilty to accessory to burglary, was up to. Haugen takes the stand. She tells the jury she packed hastily and had friends helping. That's why she doesn't know which items were stored in which containers. She regrets buying the cheap padlock, which was easily broken. At the time, she had no choice. "I was literally counting pennies at Wal-Mart to buy it." Prosecutor Laurie Trotter concludes her case by telling the jury there is no ambiguity. "The evidence shows Mary Reasoner helped Mr. Pierson remove the lock and open the door, and Mary Reasoner entered the unit herself," she says. "At the time Mary Reasoner entered that unit, she had intent to commit larceny." Defense attorney Walker counters that Mary may have been a victim of being in the wrong place with the wrong people. He argues the jury can't be sure that Mary intended to steal, or if she was merely mistakenly helping her cousin. "You just don't know, and you can't be guessing," he warns. Mary goes home, shoots up, and is immediately called back to court. In fewer than 20 minutes, the jury has returned a verdict. Guilty. "Oh God, oh God," Katherine Brisby sobs. Mary lowers her head and cries. Her only hope left is that the judge will be soft in sentencing. Just before her March 20 sentencing hearing, Mary shoots up. In court, begging for leniency, she tells Judge Maddox she hasn't used meth in seven months. "At some time you have to pay the piper," Maddox says. "There's got to be a bottom line. In this case, you've reached it." He sentences her to 12 to 30 months in prison. Epilogue: Mary has begun serving her sentence at the Southern Nevada Women's Correctional Center. In a letter postmarked April 3, she wrote: "I'm going to win this battle - believe that!"