When his wife fell down a flight of stairs and couldn’t return to work, David became involved in a coworker’s marijuana conspiracy to make ends meet. When the coworker was arrested, law enforcement held David accountable for the entire weight of marijuana produced by the conspiracy despite his limited involvement, and because he also possessed a handgun when he was arrested, he was sentenced to two consecutive five-year mandatory prison terms. He was released in 2011.
David was born in Taylor County, Kentucky. His mother left when he was only three years old and lack of money was a constant problem for David and his three brothers. At 19, David got married and entered the Marine Corps to serve in the first Gulf War. While David was deployed, his wife divorced him, retaining custody of their daughter due to David’s military obligation. David received an honorable release in 1991 and was granted full custody of his daughter four years later. David became a single father, working hard to provide for his daughter financially and emotionally.
In 1995, David remarried. His wife had badly injured her right ankle in a car accident several years prior, ultimately resulting in the amputation of her leg. Nevertheless, she persevered, learning to walk with a prosthetic leg and continuing to work as a registered nurse throughout the ordeal. Unfortunately in 2000, she fell down a flight of stairs and sustained serious injuries to her neck, back and leg. David worked at a factory at the time and his income alone was not enough to support his family when his wife was unable to return to work. His solution was to grow marijuana.
In the spring of 2000, a coworker gave David marijuana plants to grow. When they matured, David returned them to the coworker. Later, the coworker asked David to help him clone mature plants. David also sold quarter to half-pound quantities of marijuana to two people on four or five occasions.
The next year, in 2001, David’s coworker and his girlfriend were arrested. They implicated David, and on March 30, 2001, police searched David’s home, finding nearly 700 marijuana plants (though 200 were discarded due to their immaturity), $1,200 in cash, and two briefcases containing 258 grams of marijuana and a legally owned and registered handgun that David bought when he was in the military. David cooperated fully with the police, consenting to the search and leading them to his briefcases and plants.
David says he was not a major drug trafficker; the marijuana in the briefcase was for his own personal use and he kept the gun in the briefcase to ensure his daughter would not accidently find it.
David pled guilty to the charges against him, but refused to implicate anyone else. As a result, he could not attain a lesser sentence for substantial assistance. The total amount of marijuana attributed to David was nearly 70 kilograms. With no criminal history, the sentencing guidelines called for 30 to 37 months in prison. However, because David was held accountable for the entire weight of marijuana estimated to have been produced in the conspiracy, he received a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. He also received a consecutive five-year mandatory prison term for possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, leading to a mandatory sentence of ten years.
David’s coworker, who had an extensive criminal history and faced a lengthy sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm, received a 10-year sentence in exchange for his cooperation. The coworker’s girlfriend, who also kept marijuana plants and guns in her house, received a sentence of five years in prison.
While incarcerated, David received outstanding work evaluations and participated in as many programs as possible. He earned his Commercial Driver’s License and completed classes in Drug Education, Small Business Development, keyboarding, Social Behavior and Philosophy. He also became a Kentucky Master Gardener. David was able to maintain a close relationship with his daughter whom he “loves and misses dearly.” Unfortunately, the stress of incarceration caused David and his wife to divorce.
After almost a decade in prison, David was released in 2011. After his release, David worked construction odd-jobs until he landed a permanent job in 2013 working for an electrical contractor for schools. He has to drive 1 ½ hours each way to his job, but he is able to make good money, has health insurance and his company will pay for David to go back to school. He became a grandfather in 2012 and is in a happy relationship. While he is adjusting to life after prison, David finds it unfair that he spent 10 years in prison for what is now legally allowed in four states.