Dealer gets 12-year term

Friday, January 13, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A local drug dealer was sentenced to 12 years in prison at a sentencing hearing Monday.

Winston "Chad" McClain, 25, pled guilty on Nov. 30 to sale and delivery of crack cocaine, possession of crack with intent to sell and deliver, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and resisting arrest on two different dates.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler sentenced him to six years on the sale and 12 years on the possession with intent, and lesser terms in the county jail on the other charges, all to run at the same time, but following sentences from Lewisburg City Court for criminal trespass and violation of probation. He has a jail credit of 150 days.

"I know it was wrong and I admit that," McClain stated to Crystal Gray of the Board of Probation and Parole. Gray noted that McClain told her "he did not sell drugs to get rich, he sold drugs to get by." He stated that he was trying not to "be a deadbeat," but wanted to help support his girlfriend's two children.

"I have never been given a chance," McClain told Gray.

This echoes a 2006 letter asking to be released on probation, where he wrote, "I just need one chance to show I can live a productive life."

McClain was released from prison on Nov. 21, 2010, and was caught selling crack to a confidential informant working for the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force less than eight months later.

"I take a special interest in this defendant," said Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard. "He was hardly out of penitentiary long and he was buying ounces at a time. He was given chance after chance."

"When he was 15 he made a big mistake," countered Public Defender Bill Harold. "He was tried as an adult and spent 10 years in custody. He spent his formative years around people who are a terrible influence." Harold asked for a sentence in the lower range, while Barnard wanted all the terms to run one after the other.

In the end, Crigler opted to run the terms concurrent, but chose the upper end of the available time range.

McClain pled guilty to aggravated robbery in 2002. He and three other men, all in their 20s, kicked their way into a home on 1st Avenue North, threatened the occupants with a rifle and a pistol, and stole a purse and about $30.

Even at that time McClain was involved with drugs, stating to lawmen, "The crack I had on me at the time of my arrest was mine and I had it for the purpose of selling it. The marijuana I used for myself."

His juvenile record is "as bad as any I've ever seen," said Crigler, also noting McClain's "atrocious history of behavior" in prison. He was repeatedly denied parole for disciplinary reasons, and ended up serving nearly his entire 11-year sentence.

When Judy Byrd of the Board of Probation and Parole interviewed McClain for a pre-sentence report in 2002, he told her he had been using marijuana daily since he was 11 years old, had drunk alcohol three or four times a week since he was 10, and had been using cocaine since he was 12, sometimes once a week, but sometimes every day.

By the time he was 15, McClain had already been enrolled in two alcohol and drug treatment programs. At the time of the aggravated robbery he had run away from a program.

"Since age 11, the defendant has been committed to the Department of Children's Services no less than four times," said Judge Charles Lee at the time of McClain's first sentencing.

In her testimony at the hearing this week, Gray stated that McClain was affiliated with the "Crips" gang, and this is corroborated by Marshall County Jail personnel who stated McClain has "crip" tattooed across his abdomen.