District Court Judge Donald Jones expressed concern Monday over a plea agreement involving a man charged with burglary of a habitation.
According to the terms of the plea agreement, Christopher Lee Willingham, 21, would receive 10 years probation in exchange for a guilty plea, a punishment the judge said “troubled” him. Willingham was already on probation for a drug offense when he was arrested for burglarizing a home.
The judge told Willingham that probation is for “those who will obey the conditions of probation,” something the defendant was clearly not doing.
“Why should I put you on probation in this case?” Jones asked the defendant. “I need you to tell me why I should do this.”
Willingham, standing next to his court appointed attorney, Nick Pugh, asked the judge for a second chance.
“If you put me on probation I’ll do the right thing,” he said.
In the end, Jones “reluctantly” agreed to the plea deal but issued Willingham a stern warning, telling him that if he violates the terms of this probation he will go to prison.
“You will be very unhappy there,” Jones said. “You will not like the penitentiary.”
Other plea agreements reached Monday:
Mary Ann Gober pleaded guilty to two counts of abandoning or endangering a child and one count of possession of methamphetamine. Gober was arrested last year after she was caught smoking meth inside her vehicle at a roadside park while her two children played near a busy highway. She was sentenced to six months in jail for the endangerment charges and two years probation for possession. She was also ordered to pay court fees and perform 300 hours of community service. Andrew James Viles pleaded guilty to burglary of a building. Viles had two previous felony convictions. He was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution. Mary Jane Fowler pleaded guilty to fraud involving a controlled substance. She was given 5-years deferred adjudication, ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and court costs, and must perform 300 hours of community service. David Lee Sisson, Jr., pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and was sentenced to 5-years probation, ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and must perform 300 hours of community service. Alfredo Rodriquez pleaded guilty to forgery by passing and was sentenced to 16 months in jail. Jimmy Bryan Powell pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and was sentenced to 5-years probation. Brittany Lynn Fulfer pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and was given 5-years deferred adjudication.
SARA VANDEN BERGE covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.