A Beatrice woman who was found guilty of attempted possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia was sentenced to 12 months of probation on Thursday afternoon.
Lori McAtee was arrested in June of 2016 after police obtained a photo of her in which she appeared to be smoking methamphetamine.
Before sentencing was handed down by Judge Julie Smith, McAtee’s lawyer, Chuck Bentjen said that during a trial lawyer conference in Wyoming last September, he brought the case to discuss.
“I brought this case because it was completely perplexing to me that a woman who is 53 years old was allegedly in possession of an illegal substance and has a problem. (She) makes it to age 53 and has absolutely no record of any substance abuse related crimes,” Bentjen said. “In fact, she got to that age and had no crimes at all.”
Bentjen went on to describe McAtee’s life, saying it had been rife with abuse and ex-husbands preying on her financially. Her experiences, paired with a difficulty understanding things, led McAtee into the situation she found herself in, Bentjen said.
At the time of her arrest, he said McAtee was homeless and had nowhere to go. She was staying with one of her ex-husbands when a friend offered to get her a hotel room, he said. When she arrived, Bentjen said, McAtee realized he had other intentions.
“Ms. McAtee thought he was just being nice in getting her a hotel room,” Bentjen said. “When they got there, he brought out the drugs. She went into the bathroom and texted her daughter-in-law and said ‘Get out here, now.’ Things transpired and she was not able to leave.”
McAtee’s daughter-in-law texted photos she’d sent to McAtee’s son, who then called the police, Bentjen said, because he wanted to protect his mother.
“(She) acknowledges that she held the meth, took the pipe and pretended to smoke it,” Bentjen said. “She claims all along that she never inhaled. Again... someone doesn't get to be 53 and be an abuser of drugs, especially with a low IQ like she has and low reasoning skills.”
The state recommended 24 months of probation, but Smith sentenced McAtee to 12 months of probation for the first charge, saying that McAtee had a minimal criminal history with no prior drug related charges. For the possession of drug paraphernalia charge, Smith fined McAtee $25. Smith also told McAtee to attend a money management class.