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Man gets 12-year sentence

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Marshall County man was sentenced last week to a total of 12 years in prison after being found guilty by a jury in early December.

Ellis R. "Toby" Darnell, 34, of Spring Place Road, was sentenced by Circuit Court judge Robert Crigler to nine years for manufacturing methamphetamine, and three years for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Running concurrently with these sentences is another nine years for possession with intent to deliver a Schedule II drug. Darnell was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.

Marshall County Sheriff's Department deputies arrested Darnell and three other people in the early hours of Jan. 21, 2009, after a high-speed chase. A dead deer was found in the back of Darnell's jeep, and he and the others had a variety of drugs and weapons in their possession.

Darnell was convicted in General Sessions of the hunting offences (spotlighting deer, hunting from the road, and violation of hunting regulations) and also of possession of a Schedule IV drug (alprazolam).

His attorney, Melissa Thomas of Fayetteville, pointed out to Crigler that her client had never given a statement, did not testify on his own behalf at the trial, and asserted that he had not participated in the manufacture of meth.

"We got pulled over for spotlighting deer," wrote Darnell in a statement that is part of his pre-sentence report. "A snitch (Jason Morgan) told some lies, some truth, but they charged me with manufacturing and I didn't have anything on me or in jeep to manufacture."

Morgan is the only one who made a statement to law enforcement about cooking meth, according to documents in Darnell's case file. The others gave detailed accounts of what they had done that evening, and where they had looked for deer, but never mentioned drugs.

According to the Board Of Probation and Parole Personal Questionnaire and Statement that forms part of Darnell's pre-sentence report, Darnell feels he has not been treated fairly.

"The justice system or Eddie Barnard had their way with me," he wrote. "The Marshall County Justice System is crooked as hell. I got railroaded by the justice system and I'm going to appeal or take it to the Supreme Court."

As a "Standard" offender, Darnell will have to serve 30 percent of his sentence, or about three years and seven months, before he is eligible for parole.

Jason D. Morgan, 23, of Yell Road, pleaded guilty on Feb. 3 to promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, and was sentenced to four years' probation, and ordered to pay $1,867 fine and court costs. Morgan was represented by attorney Kelly Wilson.

The third person in the jeep, Kacy Renee Cantrell, 25, of Cornersville pleaded guilty in October to manufacturing methamphetamine and to the promotion of methamphetamine manufacture. She was sentenced to nine years for the first offense and three years for the second, to be served concurrently. Cantrell was ordered to spend eight months in prison, with the balance of her sentence to be served on probation. She was fined $2,000 on each charge and ordered to pay court costs. Her attorney was Hershell Koger of Pulaski.