Several sentences were handed down in Circuit Court this week, including 25 years for a Columbia man convicted of possession of a Schedule II drug (crack cocaine) with intent to sell and deliver.
"That sentence was well deserved," said District Attorney Chuck Crawford, about Judge Robert Crigler's decision.
Huedel Sparkman, 49, who is now considered a "persistent" offender, will have to serve at least 45 percent of this sentence (11 years 3 months) before being eligible for parole.
According to documents in the case file, Sparkman's criminal record dates back to a 1985 conviction for sale of marijuana. In 1999, he was sentenced in Maury County to serve 20 years for drug offences. Sparkman had been out on parole for about five months when he committed the crime (on Sept. 30, 2005) for which he was tried this year.
Sparkman's case file includes a copy of a "religious evaluation" that was performed by a prison chaplain when he was first confined in the Tennessee Department of Corrections in 1985. The chaplain wrote, "He did not impress me as being open to personal growth...His life lacks meaning, direction and purpose."
Demetrie Darnell "Meme" Owens, 27, was also found guilty in a jury trial. Crigler sentenced him to 10 years for aggravated burglary and eight years for theft of property, to be served concurrently. Owens is a "multiple" offender, so he must serve 35 percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole.
"We're gratified by the sentence handed down by the judge; it's the maximum sentence allowed by the law, given his record," said Crawford.
Owens' victims were robbed of items that had both sentimental and monetary value when Owens and an accomplice, who has not yet been found, stole a fireproof safe from their residence. The couple was compensated by their insurance company for the financial loss, but the wedding band, heirloom locket, and pocketknife given them by a dear friend, now deceased, are irreplaceable. Their daughter, who testified against Owens at his trial, admitted to giving him the alarm code and unlatching a window for him.
"We have a feeling of being unsafe in our own home...We also have great difficulty trusting our daughter in or around our home due to her part in this crime," wrote the victims.
The stolen item that was recovered in a Nashville pawnshop and used as evidence in the trial, a man's gold horseshoe ring with diamonds, has to remain in the file as evidence for 10 years, according to Circuit Court Clerk Elinor Foster.
"I was convicted of a crime that I didn't commit!" Owens stated in his pre-sentence report.
"He will appeal," predicted Foster. Owens was unhappy with the defense provided for him by attorneys from the Public Defender's Office and had to be removed from the courtroom when he would not obey Crigler's instructions.
Also sentenced last week was Beatrice Embair, 45, who pleaded guilty to aggravated perjury. She was sentenced to three years, of which 30 percent must be served before she is eligible for parole. Embair has already served 90 days in jail.
Misty Donelle Lowe, 24, pleaded guilty to forging her ex-boyfriend's name on five checks and cashing them for herself. Crigler put her on probation for three years, and ordered her to make restitution of $1,220 to Heritage South Community Credit Union, at the rate of $75 per month. If Lowe violates any of the terms of her probation, she is liable to serve an 18-month sentence.