BOONE COUNTY, WV (WOWK)- In the midst of dismal statistics about the opioid epidemic- there is a ray of hope. A Boone County drug addict, turned counselor, is leaving her former life behind. Chelsea Carter was pardoned by Governor Early Ray Tomblin in 2017, and Wednesday her record is expunged and sealed.
“I’m going to go ahead and grant your petition for expungement. Congratulations. Everybody let’s give her a round of applause,” Judge William Thompon said in Circuit Court.
Judge Thompson, who first sentenced Chelsea Carter to jail and drug court, set her free by sealing her record.
“Pure excitement and happiness. It’s almost a humbling feeling- everything has came to an end finally and I’m very thankful,” Carter told 13 News.
Carter learned her fate in a hearing in Boone County Circuit Court.
“When I was committing crimes when I was 19 years old, I had no idea about the staying effect of a felony. But now after everything that’s came forefold, it’s just been so nice to be relieved, and I can actually do things that I’ve never been able to do before,” Carter explained.
Carter said the right to vote was the furthest thing from her mind when she started experimenting with drugs at 13, and shooting Oxycotin at 16. Carter was arrested for burglary and grand larceny at 19- landing her in the same courtroom she stood in Wednesday. Now with a Master’s degree, job and clean record, Carter’s friends and family say she’s an inspiration for others.
“For our clients that walk in that are at rock bottom to see her and see her and see her accomplishments. To walk even into our office to see where she once was and where she is now- it gives that hope,” Ohio Valley Physicians co-worker Micca Ratliff told 13 News.
“It’s tangible proof to those who are suffering that recovery is possible,” another co-worker and substance abuse therapist Brad Barnett added..
“When we’re able to use Chelsea to say you’re able to do this too- it makes a huge difference,” co-worker Deitra Hackworth explained.
Chelse is also working to open a sober living facility called Hero House. You can learn more by clicking here.