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home : top news : top news April 16, 2014

Former Teacher Caught Huffing Again Three Hours After Release
Photo by Jennifer Hersey Cleveland
Sean Wallace
+ click to enlarge

Photo by Jennifer Hersey Cleveland

Sean Wallace

Jennifer Hersey Cleveland
Staff Writer

NEWPORT CITY -- The former Irasburg teacher released Tuesday after a judge found that huffing Dust Off computer cleaner was not a violation of his probation was back in court Wednesday after convulsing due to huffing more of the substance.

While Judge Howard VanBenthuysen ruled that Sean Wallace's probation conditions were not specific enough to forbid inhaling household products Tuesday, he also imposed a new condition that forbids Wallace from using any psychoactive substance.

On Wednesday in Orleans Superior Court-Criminal Division, VanBenthuysen held Wallace, 47, of Newport without bail after hearing from probation and parole that the defendant had again huffed to the point of unconsciousness and bleeding.

VanBenthuysen had cautioned Wallace Tuesday that huffing was akin to "putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger to see if it's loaded."

The judge said if Wallace continued on this path, he could very well eliminate the court's need to deal with him because they'd be reading his obituary.

Wallace had planned on transferring his probation to New York, and after hearing more about the residential treatment program he wishes to enroll in, the judge will consider his release.

Wallace's underlying sentence is three to five years. He pleaded guilty in March to a third offense of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and possessing marijuana.

But before Wednesday's hearing could get off the ground, Deputy State's Attorney Jim Lillicrap and public defender Janssen Willhoit had words outside VanBenthuysen's presence.

Lillicrap told Willhoit that he'd be asking the judge to hold Wallace without bail, and Willhoit said he'd ask for Wallace to be released into a treatment facility.

Lillicrap said he guessed that Willhoit would try to get Wallace released on a technicality so he could "go kill himself."

Willhoit took great umbrage at the comment, and addressed the issue briefly in asking VanBenthuysen for a chambers conference. Willhoit told the judge that Lillicrap said "that I wanted my client to die."

Lillicrap said that was inaccurate, that he'd merely said Willhoit wanted his client released. Lillicrap said it was a personal matter that the two men could handle outside the courtroom.

Lillicrap asked the court to hold Wallace for his own safety. "If immediate action isn't taken, the defendant could kill himself," he said.

Willhoit said Wallace would consider admitting the new probation violation if there was an offer on the table for residential treatment in New York.

VanBenthuysen said he needed to know more about the proposed treatment program before okaying it.

The judge said it was extremely disappointing to see Wallace back in court about 12 hours after discussing the ways in which he was risking his life. He said on Tuesday, Wallace assured him he would not continue engaging in this behavior.

According to the complaint, Ed Mason, the administrator of the Judd House, a transitional home in Newport City, was told by residents that Wallace was in convulsions after huffing a can of Dust Off.

Wallace, who refused medical treatment, had blood around his right ear and scuff marks on the right side of his head, the complaint states.

After Wallace admitted huffing the substance, he was emergency arrested and lodged at Northern State Correctional Facility, where he'll remain for now.

As a result of the violation, he is no longer allowed to reside at the Judd House.

The new complaint is similar to the former. In mid-June, Wallace was found unconscious, lying in a pool of blood, vomit and urine, after suffering an apparent seizure from huffing at the Judd House.

As the police were about to leave the scene that day, Wallace went inside and huffed another can before toppling over unconscious once again, according to the complaint.

Wallace has four prior convictions for DUI in 1988, 1990, 1998 and 2002.

He is a former teacher at the Irasburg Village School.

Related Stories:
• Judge: Huffing OK For Former Teacher

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