Unable to work with 15 grandchildren to feed and a meager disability income, Theresa McPeek didn’t know what else to do, so she sold drugs, her attorney said in court on Tuesday.

The 47-year-old woman stood beside Adam Grosshandler as the defense lawyer spoke on her behalf, explaining the reasoning that led her to traffic in prescription pills from her home on Moxahala Avenue. McPeek had pleaded guilty in January to seven felonies for trafficking and possessing Percocet and Vicodin, as well as possessing marijuana, Suboxone and Xanax.

“She wasn’t in her right mind,” Grosshandler said, referring to the 10 to 14 Percocets he said McPeek was taking a day. “She was in pain. She was in a lot of pain.”

“It’s hard being poor,” Grosshandler added as he stood before Judge Mark Fleegle in Muskingum County Common Pleas Court.

He ended his address by asking that the judge consider community control sanctions rather than prison. Then, a tearful McPeek apologized to the community, her family and the court.

Fleegle referenced Mcpeek’s previous 1997 trafficking conviction, in which she was in fact placed on community control, and also her two prior convictions of child endangerment.

He then sentenced her to a total of 30 months in prison. She was credited with 132 days toward her sentence for time she has served at the Muskingum County Jail.

Three years of probation upon her release are optional.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Grosshandler reiterated much of what he said in court to defend his client.

But from the prosecution’s perspective, McPeek’s crimes were part of an ongoing pattern going back to the 1997 conviction.

“We’re back here again,” Assistant County Prosecutor John Litle said Wednesday in court. “It’s evolved from a series of complaints with the community that occurred over a long period of time.”

Her arrest stems from an investigation between the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office, the Zanesville Police Department and the Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Prosecutors said McPeek was recorded selling 65 pills for $430 to an undercover informant Oct. 8. She was then arrested the same day after authorities raided her home at 1109 Moxahala Ave. and reported they seized prescription drugs, marijuana and cash.

Her grandchildren, as well as four other adults, were in the home during the raid, prosecutors have said.

A grand jury indicted McPeek on Oct. 15 on seven drug-related felonies, included two counts of trafficking in prescription drugs, a third-degree felony with a juvenile and school specification, and five counts of possession of drugs, one a misdemeanor and the rest fifth-degree felonies.

elagatta@zanesvilletimesrecorder.com