Homedale woman pleads not guilty to drug charge

Sarah Pearce, released from prison a year ago, then jailed on a felony meth-possession charge May 10, pleaded not guilty Friday to the drug charge and to a felony charge that she violated her probation on charges stemming from an infamous 2000 attack on a Canyon County motorist.

Pearce's public defender made a successful motion Friday morning to reduce her bond to $10,000. That’s the amount originally set for the drug charge, but she had also faced $50,000 bond for the probation violation. As of 8 p.m. Friday, she had not posted bail.

Caldwell police arrested Pearce at an apartment complex on Mother's Day, charging her with felony meth possession and misdemeanor paraphernalia possession. The arresting officer filed an affidavit stating that Pearce appeared to be under the influence of a stimulant and granted permission for the officer to search her. He found a syringe loaded with what appeared to be methamphetamine in her pocket and what appeared to be numerous injection points on the inside of both arms, according to the affidavit.

Now 32, Pearce was 19 when she was convicted of being one of four assailants who attacked motorist Linda LeBrane on Interstate 84 west of Caldwell 15 years ago. The group commandeered LeBrane’s car, slit her throat, beat her, robbed her, set her car on fire and left her for dead.

Sarah Pearce and her supporters battled for years to prove her innocence of the six felonies, but settled last spring for a resentencing that put her on probation after serving nearly 12 years of a sentence of 15 years to life. Her case was the subject of a two-hour "Dateline NBC" program last summer.

She is scheduled for jury trial on the drug charge Aug. 18, and a hearing on the probation violation on July 15.