By Ann E. Marimow for The Washington Post. When the judge entered the wood-paneled courtroom to begin the sentencing hearing this fall, 19-year-old Morgan Brittain was the only one who didn’t stand. She remained seated in her wheelchair in the front row.

Brittain looked in many ways like the girl she once was: Nike sneakers with hot pink laces, nails painted maroon and silver. She still had the slender frame of the dancer and runner she was before she overdosed two years ago on a half a gram of heroin she split with a friend.

The drugs had done serious harm. A younger cousin had to read Brittain’s statement to the judge on her behalf:

“I constantly feel like a burden on everyone because of all the things I can’t do: walk, talk easily, feed myself, bathe myself, drive, draw or even write this statement out. . . . The damage it has caused to my family and I is too much to even begin to describe.”

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