Two men convicted in a meth lab case last month were sentenced by Judge David Patterson Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court
30 year old Scott B. Carroll, Jr received a 30 year sentence as a career criminal while 20 year old Francisco Bustamonte was handed an eleven year term in the local case to run consecutively to a six year sentence in a Cannon County case for the same type of offense.
A criminal court jury of seven men and five women, on Friday August 19, handed down a guilty verdict against the two men, who were charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine and reckless endangerment.
Carroll and Bustamonte were accused of engaging in a process to make methamphetamine at a residence at 200 the Loop Circle in the Midway Community on January 23, 2011. The reason for the reckless endangerment charges was because the men were allegedly cooking meth in the presence of Carroll's sixteen year old sister-in-law, a juvenile, placing her in danger of serious bodily injury from the chemicals which produce a strong odor that is toxic. Another man, 19 year old Wesley J. Hayes, is also charged in the case but he did not stand trial with the other two men. His case remains pending in court.
During the sentencing hearing Monday, probation officer Jessie Paschal testified that Carroll has prior convictions for aggravated robbery, attempted aggravated robbery, and worthless checks. The robberies occurred within three days of each other from August 25-28, 2001.
Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong asked Judge Patterson to give Carroll the maximum sentence as a career offender, 30 years because he has a previous history of criminal convictions; that he was a leader in the commission of an offense involving two or more criminal actors (in this case); and that he had no hesitation about committing a crime where the risk to human life was high.
Allison Rasbury, the Assistant Public Defender, argued that Carroll should not be sentenced as a career offender because the D.A.'s office failed to meet the deadline prior to the initial trial date for filing with the court the "enhancing factors" or reasons for the harsher sentence. She claimed the range of punishment should be the same as for Bustamonte, eight to twelve years. Rasbury also rebuffed claims that Carroll was the leader in the commission of this crime, pointing out that all three men were in the same room together and they were all wearing protective gloves when officers arrived. As during the trial, Rasbury further stressed that Carroll had not intended bodily harm to anyone, citing the fact that the sixteen year old female, who was in the house at the time, was not anywhere near the bathroom where the alleged hazardous components were found.
Since Bustamonte's criminal history is apparently not as significant as Carroll's, he did not qualify for career criminal status..The range of punishment for Bustamonte is eight to twelve years. Assistant D.A. Strong essentially gave the same reasons as with Carroll why Bustamonte should receive the maximum sentence, which in his case is twelve years.
During the hearing, probation officer Pascal testified that Bustamonte had been convicted in December 2010 of initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine in Cannon County and that he had been granted judicial diversion. Only weeks later on January 23, 2011 Bustamonte was charged in this case. He is also awaiting disposition of an assault case against him which has occurred since his arrest. Bustamonte's judicial diversion probation has since been revoked.
Jim Judkins, attorney for Bustamonte, argued that while his client exercised bad judgement because of his youth, he played only a minor role in this case and that he caused no bodily injury to anyone. He asked the judge to take these mitigating factors into consideration and to impose a lighter sentence.
After weighing the arguments of each attorney, Judge Patterson said Carroll does qualify as a career offender and handed down the 30 year career sentence against him. Instead of the twelve year maximum, Judge Patterson sentenced Bustamonte to eleven years but ordered that the term must be served consecutively to the six year case against him in Cannon County.
In addition to the prison terms, Carroll and Bustamonte must each pay a fine of $27,500 as imposed by the jury. That's $25,000 each for initiation and $2,500 for reckless endangerment.
Motions for a new trial for the two men will be heard on November 16th.