Drug treatment for passenger in car with kids in trunk

EVERETT — A Snohomish County judge on Monday sent a convicted felon off to drug treatment instead of prison for his part in endangering the lives of three children.

Aaron Johnson was a riding in the front seat of a car while three children were locked in the trunk. State Patrol troopers rescued the kids during the Sept. 23 traffic stop. Their mother was behind the wheel, speeding down the freeway.

One of three children told authorities they were placed in the trunk because the adults were worried the kids would damage a snowboard and guitar in the backseat. The children said it wasn’t the first time they rode in the trunk.

Anna Boyle smelled of marijuana and admitted that she’d smoked some weed earlier in the day. The trooper later found heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana in the car along with drug paraphernalia.

While the trooper was searching the car, he heard pounding from inside. Boyle finally admitted that her kids, ages 5, 7 and 8, were in the trunk. That was more than 30 minutes after she was stopped, court papers said.

Johnson, 28, on Monday agreed to plead guilty to a more serious felony offense in order to be eligible for a special sentencing option available to drug addicts. He is expected to check into rehab Tuesday. He must complete treatment and later attend twice-monthly court hearings, where a judge will monitor his progress. If he can follow the rules for two years, he won’t go to prison. Otherwise, Johnson faces about a year behind bars — the maximum under the law.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Jarett Goodkin on Monday accused Johnson of actively using drugs. He said he was willing to give the defendant an opportunity to get his life together.

“This is the one shot he gets,” Goodkin said.

If Johnson fails to get clean, he’ll be looking at prison sentences from here on out, the prosecutor said.

His attorney, Gabe Rothstein, told the judge that Johnson’s willingness to plead guilty to a crime that could send him to prison instead of jail proves that he is ready to get clean.

His first test will be showing up for treatment today, Rothstein said.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne warned Johnson that while he’ll be taught how to maintain a drug-free lifestyle, following through rests solely on the defendant’s shoulders.

Boyle was sentenced in January to six months in the county jail. She also was banned from having contact with her three children.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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