|Dallas man gets 60 years for drug possession|
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
Feb. 6, 2004 -- A nine-woman, three-man Hopkins County jury sentenced a 40-year-old Dallas man to 60 years in prison Tuesday for possessing 2 kilograms of cocaine and 24 pounds of marijuana during a trip from Dallas to Texarkana via Hopkins County.
Jessie Alexander Jr. was also assessed court costs and $110,000 in fines following about 90 minutes of deliberations, which concluded shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Eighth Judicial District Courtroom.
Alexander pleaded guilty to possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine and more than five pounds but less than 50 pounds of marijuana before Eighth Judicial District Judge Robert Newsom Monday, when a jury was picked for the sentencing trial.
Alexander was stopped by State Trooper David Reynolds on Feb. 18, 2002, on Interstate 30 for having an obscured license plate. The trooper was almost immediately suspicious the vehicle contained contraband due to the driver's "extremely nervous" manner and the fact that the vehicle smelled strongly of air freshener.
A search turned up 25 Ziplock freezer bags containing marijuana and two plastic-wrapped bundles containing what appeared to be about four pounds of cocaine topped with two "crack cookies."
The unemployed truck driver was charged with the first-degree felony offense of possession cocaine and third-degree felony possession of marijuana. He was later released from the county jail on bond to give him time to gather information about others involved in drug trafficking. A warrant issued for his arrest after Alexander failed to provide sufficient information to Garland Department of Public Safety as promised, Assistant District Attorney Martin Braddy argued during the trial.
"The jury worked hard, and I think their decision shows how Hopkins County feels about drugs," Braddy said Wednesday. "I think they sent a powerful message to those who traffic narcotics on Interstate 30, that if they're going to do it don't get caught in Hopkins County. We won't stand for it."
Alexander testified that he was driving a car for a neighbor to another state for a fee, and admitted that he was wrong to traffic the drugs, but indicated he was afraid of the neighbor.
"His story ... was he had a really bad drug problem and he owed money to this big drug dealer. He said the dealer and 4 to 5 of his buddies came to him and forced to haul this dope. He said they showed him all these guns to make him do it," Braddy said. "I felt all along that the defendant's story would not be believed by a jury. His wife testified, and she contradicted pretty much everything he said."
Defense attorney Ted Beaty declined to comment on the case.