MONROE, N.C. (WBTV) - A mother who went into hiding with her daughter for more than a year has been convicted by a Union County jury on one charge of obstruction of justice.
Kristy Brooks was in hiding with her daughter from December 2015 until she turned herself into authorities in late January 2017.
She was charged with a crime in mid-January, just days after doing an interview with WBTV while in hiding.
On Thursday, a jury took less than an hour to decide that she was guilty of felony obstruction of justice.
Specifically, the charge stems from the fact Brooks signed an affidavit saying she would comply with future court orders in a civil custody case just days before going into hiding with her daughter, which violated later court orders.
Brooks was given a suspended prison sentence, ordered to perform community service, a 12-month term of probation and must obey all custody orders in her civil child custody case.
After court adjourned, Brooks’ attorney, John Snyder, said he believed there were several issues that he expects will be raised in an appeal of the conviction.
Earlier on Thursday, the trial started with testimony from Detective Corey Burrows, who investigated the case with the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
Burrows said he was first assigned the case of Brooks’ missing daughter in January 2016. Burrows said it was investigated as a missing persons case until criminal charges were taken out against brooks in January 2017.
Because the case was primarily investigated as a missing persons matter and not a criminal case, Burrows testified, deputies were instructed that they could not issue subpoenas or search warrants to obtain Brooks’ personal records, such as cell phone or bank records.
But documents obtained by WBTV show deputies with UCSO did obtain personal information about Brooks’ use of EBT benefits from the Union County Department of Social Services.
In an email to Brooks, Union County DSS’ attorney, Dale Ann Plyler, confirmed a DSS employee provided some personal information about Brooks to a lieutenant with UCSO.
Plyler wrote the following in her email to Brooks:
“On August 2, 2016, Mary Jane McClure responded to an inquiry from a Lt. L. Pierce. You have the same information I have about that. I have not found any information that reveals your actual records were given to a Sheriff’s deputy or anyone else in regards to that inquiry. The information that was relayed by telephone is in the notes you provided to DSS. This included the use of your EBT card for approximately a month up until July 4, 2017. This release was not authorized by anyone that I can determine. Ms. McClure did not seek permission from her superiors to release this information. I was not involved in providing legal assistance in regards to this request.”
Later in her email, Plyler said the agency did successfully resist a subpoena from a lawyer representing Brooks’ daughter’s father seeking the same EBT records.
A spokesman for UCSO declined to comment when reached Thursday morning by a reporter.
“At this point, any apparent or perceived discrepancy is a matter for the jury to consider,” spokesman Tony Underwood said in an email responding to a request for an interview. “It would be improper for a law enforcement agency to comment about witness testimony while the trial is ongoing.”