May 20, 2005 – Posted at 5:39 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO, AR – A Region 8 mother accused of hosting a beer party for juveniles faced the music in court Friday.
Last month, the Street Crimes unit of the Jonesboro Police Department responded to a complaint at the home of Tonya Curtis.
Police say when they arrived there were around eighty teenagers, kegs, and indications that money had been paid to get inside.
Curtis was arrested and charged with 27 counts, including nine counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Minor, nine counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, three counts of Possession of Beer and two counts of Obstruction of Government Operation.
Curtis didn't take the stand, but there were plenty of teenagers that did. About 20 students from Nettleton and Trumann High School testified in court about what happened at Curtis' home on April 15th.
Their parents weighed in on the issue.
“I feel like she was negligent and if she saw the alcohol and she was allowing her own child to drink, she should have shut the gates. No more partying, time to go home,” said parent Becky Holmes, “We didn't see any kind of remorse in there, apologies to any of the parents. Had the police not been called, what would we have been looking at?”
“I think it's a big misunderstanding,” said Jamie Tibbs, “We're not upset at all. We know her personally, and it was not the way it seems.”
Curtis' lawyer, Martin Lilly, says this case has been blown out of proportion and details released during the trial prove so.
“Prior to today, I don't think there were any reports that other individuals had brought alcohol to the party, and that there were reports that my client was selling beer to individuals which there was no testimony that she sold any alcohol to anyone,” said Lilly.
But Nettleton school officials say this isn't the first time Curtis has allegedly provided alcohol to students.
“Mrs. Curtis volunteered to be a chaperone for a school sponsored event that took place in Kentucky,” said Nettleton Assistant Superintendent Bob Casteel, “We had six or seven of our students that went and she supplied wine coolers to those students. This event happened in 1999, so she has a history of this.”
Some are hoping the court will send a message with this case.
“We need to let people know that this is against the law. If you give anyone alcohol it is sending a mixed message when they are under 21,” said Donna Lenners of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.