By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A Hannibal, Mo., woman on Thursday admitted to placing drugs into her son's coat pocket during a December arrest at a Quincy store.
Jennifer M. Shurtleff, 28, pleaded guilty to three charges, including two felonies, in Adams County Circuit Court. Among the charges she pleaded guilty to was endangering the health or welfare of a child, a Class A misdemeanor. Shurtleff admitted to placing heroin, cocaine and cannabis in her 4-year-old son's pocket during a Dec. 13 arrest at Kmart, 3701 Broadway.
"My mommy put that in there," the boy told a Quincy police officer during the arrest.
Shurtleff also pleaded guilty to the manufacture or delivery of 1 to 15 grams of heroin, a Class 1 felony, and retail theft, a Class 4 felony. She had two other drug charges -- felony cocaine possession and misdemeanor cannabis possession -- dismissed as part of her plea agreement. She faces a sentencing cap of no more than 10 years in prison when she is sentenced May 30 by Judge Scott Walden.
Shurtleff is eligible for probation as part of the plea agreement. If the Adams County Probation Department recommends probation, then the state's attorney's office would argue for probation. Walden is not bound by that and can sentence Shurtleff to a term in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Assistant First State's Attorney Gary Farha said a loss prevention specialist at Kmart noticed that Shurtleff was trying to steal some items from the store at about 1:30 p.m. Dec. 13. She had put on a pair of shoes and tried to wear them out of the store. She also tried to steal a T-shirt. Another loss prevention specialist at the store saw Shurtleff stuff some items into her son's coat pocket. Fahra said four plastic bags containing cocaine, four containing of heroin and two with cannabis were found in the boy's coat.
Shurtleff told a Quincy police officer that she put the drugs in her son's pocket so that she would not get caught with them. The drugs were sent to the Illinois State Police's Crime Lab, and they tested positive for heroin, cocaine and cannabis. Farha said the bags contained 9.1 grams of heroin, 3.4 grams of cannabis and 0.9 of a gram of cocaine.
Authorities contacted the Missouri Department of Social Services about the case. Shurtleff told Walden on Thursday that she has custody of her son and that her case is about to be closed by the state of Missouri. She also told Walden that she has been drug-free for more than 90 days.
Shurtleff has a previous retail theft conviction in Adams County. She received 12 months of conditional discharge, 40 hours of public service and two days of county jail time in the 2008 case. She successfully completed terms of the discharge in 2009.
She also was convicted of a cannabis possession charge in Marion County, Mo., in 2010. She was sentenced to 90 days in the Marion County Jail, two years of private supervised probation and 20 hours of community service in that case. She successfully completed that probation Aug. 27.
Shurtleff's bond was originally set at $200,000, but it was lowered to $2,000 on Jan. 17 so that she could enter residential treatment. She posted $200 bond on Jan. 18 and has been free since.