Drug offenders receive sentences

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 3, 2007

The influence of drugs and its adverse effect on a person’s behavior was discussed more than once during last week’s proceedings in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Some of the people who appeared in court to answer criminal charges said they would not have been in trouble with authorities if they had not first gotten into trouble with drugs.

Aaron Kelley, 22, of 55 Township Road 249 W. Ironton, admitted Wednesday he violated his community controlled sanctions.

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Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson told Judge Charles Cooper this incident is the second time since 2005 Kelley has violated his probation. Most recently, Kelley tested positive three times for marijuana and other drugs.

Cooper sentenced Kelley to 90 days home confinement and extended his probation one year.

“You’re a different kind of defendant than what we normally see here,” Cooper acknowledged. “It is perplexing. You do everything you should except they have found remnants of drugs on three prior occasions. One of my greatest hopes is that you find it in the depths of your mind and body the willpower to stay away from drugs. It’s a one-way street and where it’s going to lead you, you won’t want to find yourself.”

Kelley was on probation for 2005 breaking and entering and theft convictions.

Thurman Harshbarger III, 30, of 64 Township Road 181, Ironton, pleaded guilty on a bill of information to drug charges and to violating his probation by getting arrested on those drug charges.

Judge Richard Walton sentenced Harshbarger to a total of 18 months in prison and fined him a total of $6,250.

In early August, Harshbarger was arrested and charged with trafficking in and possessing marijuana. He was also charged with having a weapon under a disability— since he was on probation he is not legally allowed to have a gun. As part of his sentence, he was ordered to forfeit guns he had that were confiscated when he was arrested.

Harshbarger’s attorney, Chris Delawder, said Harshbarger got into “ an unfortunate situation” that he found hard to get out of.

“He is anxious to get this behind him,” Delawder said. “He does have a wife and child.”

Harshbarger asked Walton to allow him to see his son before he leaves for prison; Walton said he thought this could be arranged.

Also Wednesday, Christopher Strait, 35, of 2353 County Road 21, Ironton, pleaded guilty both to a bill of information containing a drug charge and to violating his probation. Cooper sentenced him to a total of eight months in prison. Strait was originally placed on probation for theft and forgery convictions in 2006.

Strait told Cooper he had a drug addiction and this was at the root of his legal troubles.

“I have been in recovery. I had a relapse when this happened. Hopefully I can keep myself together and raise my children,” Strait said.

Cooper told Strait he hoped he could beat his addiction.

“Concentrate of those three children,” Cooper advised.

Cooper approved the request for a 24-hour furlough so Strait may visit with his family before he is sent to prison.