BANGOR, Maine — The Brownville woman convicted of furnishing alcohol, marijuana and a prescription drug to her daughter’s friends during a birthday party last year is free on bail until an appeal is heard.
Tanya Donnelly, 37, was sentenced to one year in prison on June 1. She filed a notice of appeal and was granted a motion to stay execution of sentence in Penobscot County Superior Court on Wednesday, according to the Piscataquis County District Attorney’s Office.
She was released on $1,000 unsecured bail with special conditions of no use or possession of alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs. She also must submit to search and testing of her person, vehicle and residence at any time without suspicion or probable cause. She cannot have direct or indirect contact with any of the victims or their parents and siblings.
Donnelly also has a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“I’m extremely pleased with the decision. I think the judge was very fair-minded,” said Joseph Baldacci of Bangor, Donnelly’s attorney. “Because of her medical issues, it makes sense to allow her the opportunity to have an appeal. Obviously, if she had a much longer sentence, she probably wouldn’t have [been granted the motion].”
An appeal could take between six to nine months to be heard, said Baldacci. Since Donnelly’s sentence was for one year, had she stayed in jail until her appeal was heard, she may have fulfilled most of her sentence behind bars anyway, he said.
“The judge felt that she did not pose a risk to the judicial process; that she has complied with all the pre-conviction bail conditions and because of her medical issues [she should be granted the motion],” said Baldacci, referring to Superior Justice William Anderson.
Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said he was disappointed with the decision.
“We oppose her release on bail. We felt that she should be held pending her appeal. Unfortunately, we did not prevail,” said Almy. “Police will just have to keep a close watch on her and hopefully the neighborhood will as well.”
Donnelly, who carries an oxygen tank, collapsed while in court after sentencing on June 1 after she ran out of oxygen. Her attorney for the trial and sentencing, Dale Thistle of Newport, said she suffers from myriad medical problems, including pulmonary hypertension, COPD, asthma and fibromyalgia. She has been taken by LifeFlight to Boston on several occasions, he said.
Thistle said the decision makes sense because of her medical condition.
“Frankly, I think her physical condition needs to be stabilized as much as possible before she’s put in a prison facility,” said Thistle. “I’m glad that it was granted.”
On March 24, 2011, Donnelly threw a birthday party for her daughter, who invited several friends.
At some point during the party, several of the 12- and 13-year-old girls testified, Donnelly brought the girls from her father’s house, where the party started, to her house in order to smoke marijuana. According to the testimony of several witnesses, at least three of the girls smoked marijuana while others watched.
Later, the party returned to Donnelly’s father’s house, where Donnelly bought two six-packs of malt beverages and served them to the kids mixed with Kool-Aid, according to witnesses.
After one of the girls appeared to have had too much to drink, according to a witness, she went to a neighbor’s house, where she wanted to fight another girl who wasn’t at the party.
To calm her down, Donnelly gave her a prescription drug. Witnesses differed on what was given to the girl: Klonopin, an anti-seizure medication, or Clonidine, a medication used to treat high blood pressure and hypertension.
During sentencing, several of the girls who were at the party told Justice Anderson that their parents didn’t trust them and that they weren’t allowed at other parties anymore.