Sister: Drug addiction caused alleged serial robber’s crime spree

Posted at 6:58 PM, Jan 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-11 22:12:19-05

SALT LAKE CITY - The twin sister of a woman accused in more than a half dozen robberies across the Salt Lake Valley says the incidents aren't surprising considering the woman's drug addiction and lack of affordable rehab.

Police say Sandra Chotia-Thompson and Kelly Simons robbed a Murray restaurant before being spotted by police in another Murray store. During that encounter, one of the suspects allegedly fired at an officer before they stole and escaped in another vehicle.

When officers were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on one of the women on Wednesday, Simons allegedly tried to run over an officer, who opened fire, killing her. Chotia-Thompson surrendered to police later that night.

Janet Chotia, Sandra's twin sister, says she feels horrible about the damage caused by her sister and Simons over the past few weeks and is devastated that Simons paid for those mistakes with her life.

But Janet says that it isn't surprising because the women were addicted to drugs and weren't able to afford rehab. Because of that, she doesn't expect anyone to feel sorry for her sister.

"She made her choices and her decisions, she doesn't deserve sympathy for that," Janet said.

Janet says Sandra was a married suburban housewife and mother until a divorce six years ago, but an addiction to meth and heroin changed that.

Sandra and Simons, her girlfriend, shared a special bond. Unfortunately that bond included a shared addiction.

"I've never seen her be so in love with anyone. And be so supportive of anyone. Yeah, the love of her life," Janet said. "And it took hold of her quickly, very quickly. She only used it a few times before she was locked in and it never let go again."

She believes the women were able to manage their sickness for a few years but then something caused them to start using again, likely sparking the alleged crime spree.

"It's enormous how just one, or a couple of people who have a serious problem, how that rippled out into our community. Hundreds of people affected in just the past week," Janet said.

Janet hopes the tragedy wake people up to the growing problem of addiction in Utah, especially to hard drugs like heroin, and the lack of affordable rehab for those who want and need it.