In the couple’s view, Ms. Eaton was the best person Mr. Brantley could have in his life: She does not use drugs. She has a steady job as a medical assistant. She has never missed a mortgage payment. The portion of Mr. Brantley’s wages that went to the halfway house could have gone toward the couple’s future.
Though Mr. Brantley chafed at requirements that he account for every hour, he did well at the halfway house. He stayed clean and found a job. The no-contact rule was lifted, and parole officials agreed to review Mr. Brantley’s request to live with Ms. Eaton.
A parole officer, Jeffrey Simmons, drove to Ms. Eaton’s home for an inspection and interview. Things did not go well. Her steadfast assertion that she had not been a victim was, to Officer Simmons, evidence that she was hiding something. “As she told the story, she left out pieces of the story,” he said afterward.
He was equally skeptical of the idea that anyone could choose to love an addict. “I’m sure he tells her that, ‘Hey, I want to get back on track, I’m on the methadone program now, I’m finally fixing my life,’ which, you know, potentially could be true,” he said. “You just wonder why she continues to want to help.”
He recommended against letting Mr. Brantley move home.
The Specter of Blame
Ten years ago, two men broke into a family home in Cheshire, Conn. on a rampage that left a mother and two children dead. The men were on parole at the time.
Though the state’s parole system subsequently underwent a full overhaul, the specter of the Cheshire murders still haunts decisions like whether to allow Mr. Brantley to live with Ms. Eaton.
“Flip this on the side,” Richard Sparaco, the executive director of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, said about keeping the couple apart. “Who would be at fault here if no one paid attention and all of a sudden that victim was murdered by that person? It would be: ‘Parole, they knew about this and they did not protect this person.’”
Released from the halfway house in April 2016, Mr. Brantley moved into and paid rent on a basement apartment. But he flouted the rules, spending much of his time at Ms. Eaton’s.
Almost a year passed without incident. Mr. Brantley was taking methadone and working. In December, he failed a drug test, but regained sobriety quickly.
By March, Mr. Brantley thought he was ready for a more normal life. Wanting to end his daily trips to the methadone clinic, he decided to switch to Vivitrol, a shot that blocks opioid receptors for 30 days. In order to switch, he had to wean himself off methadone. Overwhelmed by the withdrawal, he began using again.
On Easter Sunday, Mr. Brantley asked Ms. Eaton for money to buy drugs. The couple argued. Mr. Brantley, who had been drinking, backed Ms. Eaton against a wall, kicked her foot, pushed her into her bedroom and turned his back on her, saying, “I just want to punch you.” Instead, he kicked a door so hard it left a hole.
The next day, Ms. Eaton went to the police.
By evening, Mr. Brantley was back where he started — behind bars.
Source: New York Times