NEWPORT — The Claremont woman who allegedly sunk her ex-boyfriend’s car in the Connecticut River is headed to jail after she entered into a plea agreement Tuesday.
Erika Belknap-Morris, 30, pleaded guilty in Sullivan Superior Court in Newport to charges of theft and bail jumping, as well as one count of possessing a prohibited item in jail for reportedly having a sleeping pill. As part of the agreement, Belknap-Morris will be able to be furloughed out to a rehabilitation and recovery program to treat her longstanding drug addiction.
“I want to thank you for the opportunity to continue on my path,” Belknap-Morris said to Judge Brian Tucker.
Belknap-Morris told Sullivan County Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker she’s been sober for six months, the longest stretch she’s had since her addiction started. Belknap-Morris’s sobriety started while she was a fugitive from justice, with her entering into a treatment program after she jumped bail.
“Despite the fact the defendant made a bad choice in not showing up, it appears she was working on her addiction,” said County Attorney Marc Hathaway.
Christine Hanisco, Belknap-Morris’s attorney, said her client has dealt with significant health problems on top of her addiction.
She is also dealing with childhood trauma after being put into the foster care system at the age of 2 because her birth family was abusive, Hanisco said.
Belknap-Morris will be eligible to enter into transitional housing if she is able to complete her 90-day furloughed rehabilitation, Hathaway said. Hathaway said it makes sense to find the best opportunity for Belknap-Morris to serve her sentence and get her life on track after she spent months on the run.
“We didn’t see the compelling need to add new charges, he said.
Belknap-Morris’s criminal odyssey started on Sept. 13, when she was arrested on a warrant charging her with felony theft and forgery. She was released on personal recognizance bail, and then in the early morning hours of Sept. 15 she allegedly drove her then-boyfriend Stephen Bonner’s 2010 Acura into the Connecticut River, sinking the car. Police have characterized the act as possible revenge.
Belknap-Morris left Bonner’s house in the early morning hours of Sept. 15, taking his car, his wallet, and other items, according to the affidavit written by Claremont Police Capt. Brent Wilmot.
After the car was sunk, she allegedly took Bonner’s credit cards to the Claremont Walmart and bought an Xbox, some Xbox games, and a Mountain Dew, according to Wilmot’s affidavit.