A Joplin woman who is battling a rare type of cancer has gotten a temporary reprieve in her drug and probation cases so she can focus on her health issues, according to her attorney.
Velma Crain, who appeared Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court, was facing the possible revocation of her probation after having been arrested last year on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance. A recovering methamphetamine user, she previously spent time in prison on drug charges.
Crain recently was diagnosed with vulvar cancer, which forms in the outer parts of the female genitals. Having just begun chemotherapy treatments with her Springfield-based oncologist, she feared she would not receive adequate medical care if her probation were revoked and she returned to prison, and that she would ultimately die of her cancer behind bars.
Her attorney, Todd Hawkins, said Tuesday that Crain’s cases have been continued “until further notice” to allow her to focus on her cancer treatments. The order, which requires that Crain comply with all the terms and conditions of her probation and continue to check in with her parole officer, was approved by Circuit Judge Gayle Crane.
“The judge allowed her some time to see how her treatment was going to go, along with following the recommendations of her parole, and we would reassess” the cases at a later date, Hawkins said.
Hawkins said he could not speculate as to how long the cases would be continued, or what might happen when they are reset. No date for a future hearing on either case has been set, according to online court records.
A clerk in the judge’s office said the cases will be reset at the direction of Crain’s parole officer, who will continue to monitor Crain. She said the judge would not be able to comment further on the cases, which remain open.
Crain’s parole officer could not be reached for comment. An administrator with the Probation and Parole Office in Joplin said parole officers are not authorized to comment on their cases.
Crain and her mother, Linda Klinzman, said they were not immediately told of the continuance, which was decided at about 11 a.m. Monday by Hawkins, the judge and the parole officer in closed quarters outside of the courtroom.
Klinzman said she and her daughter, who had a 9 a.m. hearing scheduled, sat in the hallway of the Jasper County Courts Building in Joplin until about 2 p.m. It was at that time that they finally called Hawkins, who had returned to his Joplin office, and were told that the cases had been continued.
“They discussed everything in chambers, and that was the end of it,” Klinzman said. “Nobody told us anything.”
But the overall outcome — probation with no possible prison time, at least for now — came as good news for Crain, who will undergo her second round of chemotherapy next week.
“She was doing really well last night (Monday night),” Klinzman said. “She was probably happy for the first time in a long time.”
THE STORY OF VELMA CRAIN’S BATTLES with cancer and drugs was published in the Globe on April 6 and can be found online at www.joplinglobe.com.