A Chattanooga man was sentenced to 56 months in prison on Friday after he was found with 15 grams of meth.
Patrick Pitts, a South Pittsburgh resident, has a long criminal history involving drugs and resisting arrest. His attorney, Jackson Whetsel, attempted to lower his sentence by comparing the difference in sentences for cocaine and meth.
Attorney Whetsel argued that while possession of a purer version cocaine got a higher sentence than cocaine which has been laced with other materials, the opposite is true for meth.
Pure meth usually gets defendants a lighter sentence than if they were to possess an ‘impure’ kind of meth.
The prosecution found that defense unconvincing, and focused on Pitts’ voluminous history of run-ins with the law. He mentioned a 2016 sentence where Pitts’ was lightly punished for resisting arrest, and how the defendant violated probation three separate times since that arrest.
“He was a prior significant offender in federal court,” said prosecutor Scott Winne.
After taking a short recess to consider the defense and prosecution, federal Judge Travis McDonough gave a short speech before sentencing Pitts.
“Mr. Pitts, this isn’t the worst record I’ve ever seen concerning respect for the police, but it’s pretty abysmal,” said the judge, “It’s safe to say you have a lack of respect for the law.”
Judge McDonough wasn’t finished though, and continued by saying “You’ve got a long-standing embrace of illegal drug use that has taken everything from you. Because of your choices, you’re going to be in there (prison) for a long time.”
Judge McDonough then sentenced Patrick Pitts to the 56 months in prison, a sentence followed by three additional years of supervised probation.
Before Pitts left the courtroom, Judge McDonough had a few more words for the man.
“If you don’t change your life, you’re probably going to die in prison, and that’s as sad as it gets,” said Judge McDonough, “You have to turn it around. You’re wasting decades of your life, and years of your children’s lives for nothing.”
In a second case, Jesse Carter, 52, stood before Judge McDonough after another drug-related charge. This time, he had been caught with methamphetamine.
As prosecutor Jay Woods was sure to let the judge know, this was not the first time Carter was in trouble because of drugs. Carter has two prior drug-related felonies, and several other drug related misdemeanors.
“The defendant does not have a good history with probation,” said the prosecuting attorney, “and his history doesn’t show he has an interest in rehabilitation.”
On top of this, Carter also has been charged with other offenses such as burglary, aggravated assaults, and domestic assault. While none of those charges resulted in convictions, the prosecution asked for the judge to take those into consideration.
Carter’s attorney asked the judge to disregard those charges, saying “my client isn’t violent. He has a drug problem.”
He then asked for the judge to give Carter a shorter 10-year sentence, as Carter’s health was already described as “poor”.
“He’s 52, and he’s not in good health,” said attorney Garth Best, “He’s going to be an old man when he gets out. He may not make it out, and I don’t think he’d be a problem as an old man.”
After listening to the arguments from both sides, judge McDonough handed down a sentence of 192 months and an additional five years of probation. Carter will also participate in 500 hours of the prison’s substance abuse policy.
“If you could’ve avoided drugs in your life, you could’ve avoided a lot of, if not all of your convictions,” said Judge McDonough, “and if you get into this again, you’re a dead man.”
“You’ve dug yourself quite a hole, but I hope you can fight your way out of it. Good luck, Mr. Carter.”