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Man Asks Court For Fifth Chance At Freedom

Man Asks Court For  Fifth Chance At Freedom

Man Asks Court For Fifth Chance At Freedom

A man asked for his sentenced to be reduced after pleading guilty to two counts of Sale of Cocaine. Debrozzo Tamarco Johnson made a motion to modify his sentence in Troup County Superior Court. He felt that six years was too long of a sentence for a person with only three prior convictions.

Georgia’s Recidivist Statute: First, under O.C.G.A. § 1710-7(a), if someone has one prior felony conviction, prosecutors have authority to file notice asking the judge to sentence that person to the maximum time allotted for their crime.

Another portion of the recidivist statute is what people commonly refer to as the “three strikes” law. It states that when a judge sentences a person to serve time in jail, that person must serve the entire term of confinement without early release.

Johnson was convicted in 1993 on Sale of Cocaine in which he was sentenced to a five year probated sentence and Boot Camp, in 2002 he was convicted on a Possession Charge in which he was sentenced to a four year probated sentence, in 2010 he was convicted for Sale of Cocaine and was sentenced to 10 years, serve five. In his latest case

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he was convicted of two counts of Sale of Cocaine and sentenced to 40 years, serve six as a recidivist. In all of the cases, the amount was less than a gram of Cocaine.

Ken Gordon, Johnson’s defense attorney, addressed the court stating that his client didn’t believe his sentence was fair because he only had two prior sale cases, and it is unfair to pick him out of a larger group of people with more than three prior convictions. It was also unfair to use recidivist statute on a person with only two priors that were for $20 sales, and because of the length of time in between these convictions.

Johnson requested to speak to the court “I was using drugs, I did it and I am sorry for it. I have changed my life over for God. I have already served two years. I have a wife and kids. I think this was just too harsh.” He asked the judge to take some time off his sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Jim Powers explained that it was a negotiated plea agreement. Gordon has filed a grave number of motions on recidivist cases. This statute provides prosecutors with a tool to seek increased punishment for individuals with prior felony convictions.

Judge Dennis Blackmon explained that at the time of his negotiated plea agreement he was facing a jury trial. Under the circumstances, he was facing 10-40 years or even a life sentence due to his prior convictions. Part of the plea agreement was to drop two charges of Sale of Drugs Within 1000 Feet of Public Housing, which could have resulted in a lot more time.

Blackmon stated “If you continue to sell drugs…which is really just poison for these neighborhoods, specifically for the public housing neighborhoods. On March 9th, you made a decision, one needed to be made that day. Now you have had time to think about it, now you seem to have buyer’s remorse. The fact is you could have had a jury trial or entered a blind plea … instead you decided to lock it in with a 40, serve six and not take a chance on receiving more time.”

Blackmon denied the request to modify or change it in anyway. Others pleading guilty were:

• Marcus Jamel Jones, age 32, pled guilty to Possession of Prohibited Items by an Inmate. On June 25 at Troup County Correctional Institute, Jones was walking down a hall carrying his prayer rug. A guard noticed something fall out of the rug and soon realized it was marijuana. He was sentenced to two years to serve.

• Tony Ferinando Edmondson, age 42, pled guilty to Theft by Taking. Edmondson was employed at Fryer’s Tire when he decided after his shift was over he would take the company truck for a few days. He did not have permission from the owner of the business nor did he have a valid driver’s license. He was sentenced to five years, serve 12 months.

• Valintino Dewashington Tucker pled guilty to Entering Auto and Violation of First Offender Probation. On June 27, a witness observed Tucker going through a Tahoe that did not belong to him. They called 911 and gave a description and officers apprehended him a short time later riding a bike down the road.

Tucker pled guilty under the First Offender Act in January of 2010 on a Burglary charge. By pleading guilty to the Entering Auto charge he admits to violating his probation and had to be resentenced on the burglary charge. He was sentenced to 10 years, serve 24 months plus the balance of the restitution from the burglary.

Vicki Sharpton Staff Writer