Drug plea prompts 'trends' discussion

Staff Writer

A 60-year-old Clay County man assures a judge he has reformed his drug-trafficking ways and won't let the community down.

More than five years after his June 18, 2013 arrest for distributing more than 10 grams of methamphetamine, Henry Chandler pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of possession of between 2 and 10 grams of the highly addictive drug.

As part a plea bargain agreement, Clay County Circuit Court Judge Jim Kitchens gave Chandler a five-year suspended sentence, five years on probation, $250 in restitution to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and a $1,000 fine.

He faced up to eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The plea hearing prompted a discussion among Kitchens, Chandler and prosecutors about the changing nature of drug use, especially the switch from crack cocaine to methamphetamine among all races, in the last decade and the changing potency and origins of drugs.

When asked by the judge, Chandler said he'd gotten out of the drug-dealing following his arrest in this case.

He said he didn't know where the drugs came from, prompting Kitchens and Assistant District Attorney Scott Rogillo into an exchange about how tougher laws have shut down most manufacturing locally but opened the door to the brutal Mexican drug cartels to ship in cheaper, more potent methamphetamine.
Kitchens recounted a story he'd read recently of two Mexican drug couriers who'd made a run to Georgia and were on their way back when they go suspicious of a 49-year-old woman who was one of the men's girlfriend.

They killed her and decapitated her 13-year-old autistic granddaughter.
"Have you ever been to Mexico," Kitchens asked.
"No sir," Chandler replied.

"You got lucky, stay away from it," Kitchens advised Chandler after sentencing him. "Don't let your community down."
"I won't," Chandler replied.

"The whole nature of drugs has changed. You never used to see methamphetamine use among African-Americans. It was all crack cocaine. Now, everyone is meth," Kitchens said in an exchange with Rogillo, who noted the Mexican cartels have now taken over the market and Columbia is sending its cocaine to Europe instead.
"And it's getting more addictive," the judge added.

In other Clay County Circuit Court cases this week:
-- Dmetre Maical Townsend, 19, is ordered held on $50,000 bond after being arraigned on armed robbery charges stemming from the July 14, 2017 robbery of Fred's in West Point.

Townsend was arrested not long after the afternoon robbery attempt at the East Main Street business, based on descriptions provided by store clerk, Angelica Poe, and the store manager and assistant manager at the time, Lisa Shane and Teresa Jolly.

Townsend is thought to be the one who entered the store and pulled a gun demanding Cox open her register.

When she said he didn't have a key and needed a manager, the suspect began yelling and pulled her out of the way, knocking her to the ground.

Shane and Jolly had heard the commotion and called police while watching it unfold on the store's security camera. As police were pulling up, a store stocker and Cox were able to run out the rear of the building with the gunman not far behind.

At the time, the store closed for the rest of that Friday and Fred's provided counseling for the store employees;
-- Joe Willie Wren, 44, was ordered held on $100,000 bond after being arraigned on aggravated domestic assault and kidnapping charges stemming from a Sept. 1, 2016 attack on Star Davidson.

According to court records, he beat her with his fists, knocking out a tooth and bruising her face, arm and leg and held her against her will in her car.
In court papers, she says it was not the only time he'd assaulted her and he continues to threaten her through text messages.
-- Mikel Ray Craven, 37, finished serving one sentence but is jailed because he hasn't posted bond on a pending kidnapping and armed robbery charges that have been held up being presented to the Clay County grand Jury.

In April 2017, he was indicted for breaking into a storage unit on Highway 50 East in September 2016 and for possession a check stolen from Hannah Tours in January 2017. The storage unit was rented by Deborah Moore and contained items belonging to her late husband, many of which had been willed to their son, according to court papers.

He pleaded guilty in January to the burglary charge and was sentenced to five years with three suspended, leaving two years to serve. He was given credit for the time he'd been in jail.
He was released on that sentence Sunday but brought back to Clay County because he'd never posted bond on the separate kidnapping and armed robbery charges that stemmed from a different incident in 2016.

His bond in those cases is set at $75,000. 
According to court records, Craven said he was drunk at the time he committed the burglary and has a history of alcohol-related offenses, including three different DUI convictions in Clay County in 2006 and 2007.