After multiple hearings and countless philosophical debates about the meaning of truth, Roscoe Tillman Essex’s Federal Court case finally concluded with a 24-month prison sentence.
“This case has given us the opportunity to explore almost everything under the sun,” said Judge Sandy Mattice, “and I don’t know if either side has carried their burden of showing what has actually happened.”
Essex was certainly involved in drug trade. That was not contested. Rather, the degree to which he was involved was subject to intense scrutiny. While Essex was believed to have lied to the state, his defense attorney Gene Shiles posited that his client did not willingly mislead the authorities.
“What Essex told officers was what he thought was the truth,” said Judge Mattice, who reiterated Essex’s mental health issues, “and there is no 'objective' way to say ‘that is what really happened.’”
Attorney Shiles asked for a downward departure on the sentence based on Essex’s mental and medical health. He also asked for Judge Mattice to possibly find a way to allow Essex to avoid the prison system.
“I believe (Essex’s mental state) did make this defendant more vulnerable to persuasion,” said attorney Shiles, portraying his client as an unwitting accomplice, “and I am concerned about Mr. Essex going into a prison population.”
“Well, it seems like the conduct he engaged in means there is an argument it required a certain level of critical thought,” said Judge Mattice, “but it is critically important he get his medication. He can go into the prison system as long as he’s on his meds, and he will get any treatments and accommodations after the mental evaluation.”
When asked if the state wanted Essex’s sentences to run concurrently, prosecutor Kyle Wilson was amenable, telling Judge Mattice, “The court can do whatever it wants, with no objections.”
Judge Mattice then proclaimed the sentence added three years of probation. When given a chance to speak, Essex questioned why his drug offense became a federal case.
“I was wondering why my case went federal,” asked the defendant.
“We may go to our graves wondering why your case went federal, but it did,” said Judge Mattice in response.
Judge Mattice allowed Essex to self-report by Feb. 12, which would give him a chance to gather a list of medications he needs before going into prison. Attorney Shiles thanked the court for its patience, saying “I appreciate how the court has looked at the case from several different angles.”
“It has been unusual in a lot of aspects,” said Judge Mattice.