She’ll be the last witness called by the plaintiff, the state, before it passes the case to Lehmberg’s defense team, said James Collins, first assistant attorney in Travis County. Before calling Lehmberg, Collins told visiting Judge David Peeples that he’ll call a third mental-health expert.
Yesterday, Collins put on deposition testimony from a psychiatrist and a therapist from Sierra Tucson in Arizona, the treatment facility that Lehmberg attended after she served her jail sentence for her April conviction for driving while intoxicated.
Dr. Nia Sipp was Lehmberg’s attending psychiatrist. In a depo video, Sipp said she gave Lehmberg an “excellent prognosis” for recovery because during treatment, she was willing and open to learning and she absorbed new skills to cope with anxiety and stress and make better decisions about her physical and mental health.
“She was a leader on campus,” said Sipp. “She displayed a skill set I felt would really serve her well as she continued to recover.”
When she left, Lehmberg agreed to Sipp’s recommendations to continue seeing a therapist weekly, find a psychiatrist in Austin in case she needed to take medication, and begin attending group therapy meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery, another type of addiction recovery support group. There was more emphasis on SMART Recovery because Lehmberg connected more with that program, she said.
In the video, Collins asked Sipp whether it would affect her prognosis for Lehmberg if she learned that Lehmberg had not attended any SMART Recovery meetings.
“That would cause me pause as far as her prognosis,” she said. “I would have to classify the prognosis as good. Excellent with SMART Recovery, good without it.”
On a 100-point scale, Sipp said that Lehmberg—at her “lowest”—was functioning at 50 to 60. In response to a question by Dan Richards, Lehmberg’s attorney, Sipp said that most people who enter treatment rank at a 30 to 40 on that scale. She said the “pinnacle of normal” is 60 to 70.
Sierra Tucson therapist Elaine Hixson also testified.