By Dave Pearce
The results of an aggressive stance toward ridding Posey County of its drug and methamphetamine epidemic continue to headline the county’s court news.
This week, Posey County prosecutor Travis Clowers was in court for the sentencing of Floyd D. “Junie” Stewart, Jr., of Mount Vernon. The 59-year-old Stewart was sentenced to 21 years to be executed at the Indiana Department of Corrections followed by two years to be served on Posey County probation.
Also in court this week was Donald Pilkington, a product of Operation Heat Wave, pled guilty on Monday of this week to four drug-related offenses. According to information provided by Posey County Deputy Prosecutor Jonathan Parkhurst, Pilkington is set to be sentenced on January 20, 2013 and is expected to receive a 14-year sentence.
Methamphetamine was found in Pilkington’s home and Indiana State Police were called to Pilkington’s home on the day of his initial arrest to clean up a meth lab found on his rural Mount Vernon property.
Stewart was also arrested on Sept. 30, 2011, during Operation Heat Wave, the first of two major drug sweeps that have occurred in Posey County in just over a year. Stewart was arrested along with some 20 other suspects who were subsequently charged with various drug offenses.
The State of Indiana charged Stewart in Posey Superior Court with two counts of Dealing in Cocaine, each a Class A Felony. The charges alleged that Stewart had sold cocaine to a Confidential Informant in weights exceeding three grams on June 3 and again on June 9 of 2011. A Class A felony carries a potential sentence of between 20 and 50 years. Stewart had been an inmate of the Posey County Jail awaiting sentencing since his arrest and subsequent conviction.
Stewart was convicted following on 14 minutes of jury deliberation during the trial which began on October 31, 2012, and concluded on Nov. 1, 2012.
Testifying in front of the 12-person jury were the Confidential Informant along with members of the Posey County Narcotics Unit and members of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force. Also testifying were FBI Special Agent William Gray, Evansville Police Officer Mike Kennedy, Posey County Sheriff’s Detective Jeremy Fortune, and Posey County Narcotic’s Unit Investigator Kenneth Rose. The jury heard recordings of the actual cocaine deliveries made by Stewart on June 3 and June 9. The State also called Robert Krefft, a Forensic Chemist with the FBI’s Chicago office and he testified that Stewart delivered cocaine weighing 5.8 grams and 4.9 grams.
During this week’s sentencing hearing before Judge S. Brent Almon in Posey Superior Court, the State pointed out that Stewart had a lengthy criminal history which included D felony convictions for intimidation of a police officer in 1992, two counts of possession of cocaine in 1993, and another count of possession of cocaine in 1998. The State also pointed out that Stewart had served sentences in the past on Probation or Community Correction, in the Posey County Jail, and in prison.
Almon, after weighing the evidence and determining whether Stewart was a “Danger to Society,” announced the sentence. With good time credit, Stewart could be out of prison in 10 years.
“The Prosecutor’s office and local law enforcement personnel appreciate the time and effort made by the Posey County Jury in setting through two days of evidence and returning guilty verdicts in this case,” Parkhurst said. “Through the hard work of all agencies involved, we were able to present a strong case that Floyd “Junie” Stewart dealt large quantities of cocaine in Posey County and we believe that 30 years in prison was the appropriate sentence given Stewart’s prior criminal history and the seriousness of the crimes he committed.”
Clowers also indicated a disappointment in the length of the sentence.
“The defendant could have been sentenced to a maximum of fifty (50) years in prison today,” Clowers said. “Given all the relevant factors in this case, we felt it appropriate to argue for the 30 years and we had hoped the defendant would be sentenced to well beyond the minimum of 20 years. But regardless, this should send a message to all drug dealers in our community that once convicted, my office will continue to seek lengthy prison sentences.”
Stewart advised the court that is was his desire to appeal both his convictions at trial and the judge’s sentence. Almon appointed attorney Donald Baier to continue to represent Stewart on his appeal.
By Dave Pearce
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