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Judge Sentences Meth Dealer, With an Unusual Request

Judge TS Ellis III asks prosecutors to find way to reduce mandatory 40-year term
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2018 1:40 PM CDT
   (Getty/Michael Chodyra)

(Newser) – A 37-year-old resident of Washington, DC, got busted last year for dealing meth in a major undercover sweep. And though it was Frederick Turner's first serious criminal offense, he received a mandatory 40-year sentence on Friday. As the Washington Post reports, the judge who imposed it isn't happy he had to do so. “I think that’s excessive,” said Judge TS Ellis III. “The only thing I can do is express my displeasure. ... I chafe a bit at that, but I follow the law.” However, Ellis did make an unusual move: He asked prosecutors to find a way to get the sentence reduced, though that seemed like a long shot given that the others involved in Turner's case already have pleaded guilty. Turner took his chances at trial and was convicted.

Turner's problem wasn't only the meth he sold to an undercover detective—it was the gun he retrieved from a car belonging to the drug dealer who recruited him, which was packaged with the meth in the sale. Though Turner didn't use the gun, the related weapons charges added 30 years to his sentence. “There is no excuse for my actions,” Turner said in court, referring to them as “stupid.” His family and defense team said Turner has long struggled with drug abuse, with his sisters adding that he had reached to them just three weeks before his arrest for help. However, they say they couldn't quickly find an affordable rehab program. Judge Ellis said he was sympathetic but powerless. "The remedy is across the river," he said, referring to Congress. Read the full story. (Read more mandatory minimums stories.)

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