3-year-term handed down in Cornersville pot case

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A man - arrested in a drug bust by Cornersville Police last October - was sentenced last week to three years in prison.

James Earl Bragg Jr., 27, of Murfreesboro, pleaded guilty to the charge of sale of marijuana. As a "standard" offender, Bragg would serve 30 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Bragg was never able to make bond, so he had 219 days of jail credit and could be free as early as September.

However, Bragg's problems will not end there, according to documents in his case file. Rutherford County has a hold on him for another charge of possession of 10-70 pounds of marijuana with intent to sell. That's in accordance with his arrest in that county on April 8, 2009.

Bragg retained attorney Kelly Wilson to represent him.

"I know now how big of a mistake I've made and, given a second chance, I know I can be a law abiding citizen and get myself back on the right path," Bragg told Lorannda Borja of the Board of Probation and Parole, according to the pre-sentence report she filed for Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler,

Borja asked Bragg why he was transporting such a large quantity of marijuana, and he said, "I really have no answer for that."

Bragg and Thomas were in a car rented by a third person, who was not present at the time of their arrests, records show. The car had been driven just over 2,000 miles.

Bragg told Borja they had come from Atlanta, and were on the way to Murfreesboro.

He told a different story when Cornersville Police Chief Todd Bone first stopped the car, saying they had driven from Mobile, Ala.

Bragg's fellow defendant, Tamira Thomas, told a third story. In a statement prepared by her appointed attorney Kevin Latta, Thomas said she and Bragg were returning from San Antonio, Tex., when they were pulled over on Oct. 13.

Thomas was released on probation after pleading guilty in April.

In another marijuana case, Crigler sentenced Eugena Rosalee Grimes, 20, of Old Farmington Road to a month in jail and three yars on probation.

Grimes pleaded guilty to possession with intent to sell marijuana. Represented by appointed attorney Jheri Beth Rich, Grimes took the stand at her sentencing hearing. She told the court she did not know why they were parked on a dead end road last October until her husband, Christopher G. Grimes, pulled out a marijuana plant and started packaging the drug. She protested, but stopped when her husband began to get angry, Eugena Grimes said. She said she was afraid of him, since they had a "really rocky relationship" and he had been "abusive."

However, Crigler was unconvinced that Eugena had been a fearful, innocent bystander. Police photographs presented in evidence showed fragments of marijuana leaves on her clothes and skin, and two bags of marijuana were found under the passenger seat where she had been sitting.

"I do not find she is credible," the judge said. "I don't think she's been candid with the court."

He sentenced Eugena Grimes to serve 30 days, and spend three years on probation, as well as paying off the $2,000 fine and $867 costs at $100 per month.

"This is not the life I wanted to live," Eugena said at the sentencing hearing. She testified that she intended to get a divorce and go back to school and get her GED. Eugena is pregnant with the couple's second child.

Chris Grimes also pleaded guilty and is serving an 18-month sentence.

Also sentenced last week were:

* Gordon Daniel Prock, 28, of Lincoln County, who pleaded guilty to evading arrest by flight and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon involved. Crigler sentenced Prock to 18 months on each charge with the terms to be served consecutively, plus court costs. Prock will have to serve 30 percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole. Prock fled from Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Will Spivy on Jan. 5, 2007, leading Spivy on a 20-minute chase down State Route 129, according to documents in the case file. Prock is alleged to have passed four vehicles by crossing the double yellow lines.

* Christopher Neal Owen, 37, of Belfast, Lewisburg's former Animal Control Officer, pleaded guilty to official misconduct, a class E felony. Crigler sentenced him to two years' probation, with 48 hours to serve in jail, and also ordered Owen to pay costs of $1,091 and restitution of $71. Owen, defended by David McKenzie, is alleged to have sold a dog he took from the animal shelter.