By Karen Hall
A Murfreesboro woman was placed on community corrections instead of being sent to prison for her alleged role in a drug sale here.
Africa McQuiddy, 31, was charged with conspiracy to sell more than 0.5 gram of crack cocaine. According to Special Agent Shane Daugherty of the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force, McQuiddy's half-sister, Tonya Hampton, 40, talked to the confidential informant, but McQuiddy completed the exchange of drugs for money on Nov. 10, 2011.
McQuiddy made a best-interest open plea to the charge, without admitting guilt.
"People sometimes deserve a second chance," said Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard. "I predict she won't take advantage of it."
Crystal Gray of the Board of Probation and Parole prepared McQuiddy's pre-sentence report, which noted that she attended Marshall County High School, but dropped out at 17 when she became pregnant. Later she got her G.E.D. and attended the Unversity of Phoenix, studying criminal justice until she had to quit to take care of her father, who has since passed away.
McQuiddy has two children, and is currently working three part-time jobs. Her employment history is "pretty good," said Gray, "Pretty steady." She has no criminal record.
"This was not the report I expected," said Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler.
McQuiddy has had problems showing up on time for court dates in Marshall County and also missed her first two appointments with Gray. On the witness stand, she said she would have no trouble getting to probation appointments in Murfreesboro because she could use public transportation.
"Is there any reason for you to be back in Lewisburg?" asked Barnard.
"No," McQuiddy said. "Everybody I care about (here) is deceased."
"Can you pass a drug test this minute?" Barnard asked.
"No," she answered, having admitted earlier to using marijuana.
"I request probation," said McQuiddy's appointed attorney James Frazier. "She has no record; she's not going to do it again."
"I hope you're right," said Crigler. "The whole thing is a little troubling. The defendant doesn't admit her guilt.
"You might not be taking this quite seriously enough," the judge said to McQuiddy.
Nevertheless, Crigler decided the positives outweighed the negatives, and sentenced McQuiddy to four years of community corrections and ordered her to pay off her $2,000 fine and court costs at a rate of $100 per month, starting Jan. 10.
Crigler specifically requested that the Murfreesboro community corrections office perform "reasonable and random" drug tests on McQuiddy, and notify him immediately if she fails a drug test or fails to pay her fine and costs.
"That's what revocation warrants are for," Crigler said.
"Your fate's in your hands," he told McQuiddy as the hearing ended.
Also in court Wednesday, Crigler denied a new trial motion for convicted murderer Phillip Burgess, and held a suppression hearing in the case of Holly Hunter.