Created on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 Written by NATE SMITH
A defendant who previously won the right to be resentenced based on a technicality may have come away Monday grateful that a harsher sentence hadn’t been levied.
Marcus Wilkerson, 30, originally was sentenced in March 2013 to three years in prison for three counts of trafficking in drugs and a single count of possession of drugs.
Technically, the four charges covered two cases, each consisting of a fourth- and fifth-degree felony. Judge Mark S. O’Connor sentenced him to 18 months for the fourth-degree felony, and 12 months for the fifth-degree felony in each case.
The individual charges were ordered to be served concurrently — but the sentence from each case was to be served consecutively — making for a grand total three-year term of incarceration.
To order consecutive prison terms, the Ohio Revised Code requires judges to make specific legal findings that justify multiple prison sentences in a row.
“Consecutive terms are necessary in order to protect the public,” is one example.
Defendants subject to such decisions are afforded the right to appeal, and most do.
Mr. Wilkerson had his case sent back before Judge O’Connor by the Third District Court of Appeals in Lima, which directed the local judge to “analyze the case more thoroughly,” and state more specifically his justification for consecutive sentences.
“What if I’ve analyzed the case more thoroughly and determined that a longer sentence should be ordered?” Judge O’Connor asked.
The defendant was the subject of multiple investigations conducted by local drug investigators throughout 2011 and 2012. He has felonies in Logan County dating back to 2006, and was arrested multiple times in 2012 for dealing heroin and fleeing and eluding law enforcement.
Mr. Wilkerson told the judge that he was doing whatever he could to get out of prison early.
“I’m not saying I’m innocent in all this or anything like that,” he said. “But my family needs me desperately and I’m trying to do anything I can to get back to them sooner.”
The defendant has worked in the prison kitchen, and has been a volunteer tutor while incarcerated.
Arguing for a light sentence, his attorney pointed out that Mr. Wilkerson had been the subject of investigations by the Logan County Joint Drug Task Force and hadn’t engaged in any “predatory behavior.”
Judge O’Connor disagreed, saying the act of dealing drugs is predatory.
“That state legislature is putting millions of dollars in family and drug courts because of drugs and the harm they do,” Judge O’Connor said. “You say you just want to get home because you’re family needs you, well, society doesn’t need you.
“You’re a professional drug dealer.”
The three-year sentence was re-imposed, as the judge took great pains to ensure he satisfied the proper bureaucratic findings.
The defendant is due out of prison in March 2016.
Defendant pleads to heroin trafficking, possession
Craig Webster, 38, currently lodged in jail, pleaded guilty Monday to trafficking in drugs and possession of drugs, both fifth-degree felonies.
He was the subject of investigations conducted last August by agents of the Logan County Joint Drug Task Force. A confidential informant bought $20 of heroin off him at a residence at 505 Lincoln Boulevard, Russells Point.
A few days later, law enforcement arrested him there and found additional units of heroin in his possession.
Asked how long he’d been selling heroin the defendant told investigators at the time of his arrest, “not since you guys busted my supplier.”
The defendant has been in Logan County Jail since December when he was lodged for violating his probation. He was granted bond pending his May 12 sentence, and will be staying at a residence in Springfield.
The defendant believes he’s going to be sentenced to prison and hopes to get new glasses, which are currently being held together with tape, while he’s out of jail, his attorney said.