BLACKFOOT -There are numerous defendants on probation to the Bingham County court system, many of whom violate that probation and are given second chances. But one found out Monday that his chances are all used up.
Despite an eloquent plea from 35-year-old Shaun David Newton that he is a changed man who has finally seen the error of his ways, 7th District Judge Darren Simpson sentenced him to prison for up to eight years, a sentence he handed Newton in 2017 for grand theft by receiving stolen property, a crime he committed in 2016. The judge retained jurisdiction at that time and placed him on probation after a time in prison.
“You asked for this in 2018,” Simpson reminded Newton. “We gave you a second chance and you thumbed your nose at it. It’s hard to get a read on you, but the picture I have is you continue to do the same thing over and over again.”
The judge referred to a second sentence of three years fixed and seven years indeterminate for grand theft by receiving stolen property that Newton received in 2018, when he was again placed on probation.
With Newton’s guilty plea to probation violation — the reason he was in court Monday — the judge noted that he now has three felony convictions.
Newton’s public defender Jeffrey Kunz explained to the court that his client violated probation by leaving the jurisdiction without permission, but the reason he left was that he couldn’t find housing here so he went to Utah where he has relatives who took him in and provided a stable home.
Since then, he said, he’d been doing very well, undergoing treatment and counseling for his alcoholism, and attending church. “To give him credit he went somewhere good, but the problem is it was in Utah,” Kunz said.
Deputy Prosecutor Jason Chandler said it’s true that housing was a problem for Newton, but he could have asked for help, and the real problem is he didn’t ask his probation officer for it. “He’s already had one rider (retained jurisdiction sentence),” Chandler said.
When given the opportunity by the court to speak, Newton said he did ask for help finding housing but it wasn’t forthcoming. “They weren’t very supportive and left me on my own.” Now he wants to be back on probation and be able to serve it in Utah.
Newton said he’s come to realize the damage he’s done to himself and his family, “If you asked me right now what I deserve, I would say go to prison,” he said. “I’ve broken the law many times,” adding that he had lied to the judge earlier by saying he had suitable housing.
But he can successfully serve probation now, Newton said, because he has the support of his family. “I was active in church and with my family,” he said. “I know I will do good there because I have done good there. I know that would be best for me.”
Simpson, however, wasn’t swayed by Newton’s humble demeanor. “You know the right things to say,” the judge said. “You’ve been given opportunities with specialty court and increased supervision and it hasn’t worked. I’ve given up seeing probation as an option for you.”
Newton’s three-year fixed and five-year indeterminate sentence will run concurrently with the sentence he received in 2018.