BLACKFOOT – Twenty-two defendants were scheduled to appear Monday before 7th District Judge Darren B. Simpson, 10 for arraignment on felony charges, four for sentencing on felony charges, eight for hearings on whether they’re guilty of violating their probation on felony charges, two for evidentiary hearings on their charges of probation violation, one for a hearing on bond reduction and one for a hearing on a motion that he be released on his own recognizance.
James Charles Thomas, 52, Idaho Falls, appeared for sentencing on the charge that he violated the probation he was given for possession of methamphetamine. His public defender Jeff Kunz told the court has client has never had treatment for drug addiction and asked that he be given another chance. Deputy Prosecutor David Cousin said Thomas has had plenty of chances, but didn’t show up when he was supposed to. “We’re not recommending drug court,” he said
Judge Simpson said the pre-sentence investigator recommended that Thomas receive a retained jurisdiction sentence, but since he has already been given one, doesn’t believe another will do any good. Instead, he sentenced Thomas to a prison term of four years fixed and three years indeterminate, then suspended the sentence and placed him on probation for six years. Simpson fined Thomas $1,385 plus $500 for attorney fees, ordered him to enroll in Bonneville County Drug Court, enroll in an education or training program and perform 600 hours of community service. He is also to serve 180 days in jail at the discretion of his probation officer.
Laura Lee Shepherd, 52, Grassrange, Mont., pleaded guilty to violating her probation for possession of a controlled substance when she earlier pleaded guilty in Bonneville County to grand theft and was sentenced to prison for three years fixed and six years indeterminate. Her attorney Nathan Rivera said his client’s issue is poor judgment. Simpson revoked Shepherd’s probation and sentenced her to three years fixed and six indeterminate. He retained jurisdiction and said the sentence will run concurrently with her Bonneville County sentence.
Nicholas David McArthur, 38, had his hearing on probation violation continued to April 29.
David A. Walker, 24, Pocatello, sentenced previously in Bannock County to six years fixed and eight years indeterminate, then placed on five years probation, pleaded guilty to violating his probation by using a controlled substance. The state recommended he stay on probation if he continues to attend drug court, although his probation officer had recommended incarceration. Simpson sentenced Walker to three years fixed and three years indeterminate then suspended the sentence and placed him on four years probation with orders to attend drug court.
Nathaniel R. Albano, 22, Pocatello, given five years probation on a charge of possession of a controlled substance, admitted he violated his probation, but said some of the violations resulted because he was serving probation in Bingham County where he had no support from family. “I was struggling because I had no place to live,” he told the court.
Albano’s public defender Manuel Murdock said his client pleaded guilty in Bannock County to possession of meth and has been in jail there for 14 months. He said Albano believes he can serve a successful probation and has been accepted into drug court in Bannock County. Simpson continued Albano on probation for three more years.
Valarie June Kindred, 32, placed on five years probation after serving a 3-year fixed and 3-year indeterminate retained jurisdiction sentence for possession of a controlled substance, admitted violating her probation by getting a methamphetamine possession charge in Bonneville County. Her public defender Manuel Murdock said she had been struggling, but said he feels she could do a retained jurisdiction sentence and make it work this time. Prosecutor Paul Rogers said he felt she should be continued on probation, and Simpson agreed. “I’m going to give you another shot,” he said and continued her probation.
Simpson advised several of the people in court for probation violation to talk to their probation officers when they are struggling, whether it’s finding a job, a place to live or following the regulations. “That’s what they’re there for,” the judge said. “They are a resource.”