Burglary, forgery, drugs lead to 14 years in prison
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 11:00 AM
A Madison man was given a 21-year sentence Monday after pleading guilty to several felony charges.
Darren Keith Stewart, 19, will serve 14 years in prison, followed by seven years on community corrections.
Stewart pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary, a Class B felony; burglary, a Class C felony; forgery, a Class C felony; theft, a Class D felony; and possession of methamphetamine, a Class D felony.
The burglaries charges stem from several incidents investigated by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. The forgery charge involved attempting to pass a counterfeit $100 bill at a gas station. The theft case stemmed from a shoplifting incident at Walmart. The possession of meth case resulted after police officers found the drug during a traffic stop.
Stewart said the majority of his problems came with his increased drug use. He testified that he's been using drugs since he was 15 years old.
"I've had a problem with it, and I never got no help," he said.
He started out using marijuana, but that eventually led to prescription pills, meth and heroin. He said he started stealing items to support his drug habit. Stewart said he spent up to $2,000 a week on drugs.
Stewart said he and his brother, who received six years of probation for his role in the burglaries, never planned which houses to steal from and they were spur of the moment.
He was questioned about specifics as to who did what during each burglary, but Stewart did not go into detail. Judge Alison Frazier said she viewed that as him not being remorseful for his actions.
Jennifer Culotta, Stewart's attorney, submitted 29 pages of letters in support of Stewart from family members.
Pauline Young, Stewart's grandmother, said he's a "good boy who fell into a bad situation." Four members of Stewart's family testified at Monday's hearing, and they all agreed that had it not been drugs, his life would be much different.
Yancy Denning, the lead investigator in the case, said this was a "large-scale burglary." When Denning and other officers executed search warrants at Stewart's residence, they found a stockpile of weapons and tools.
Denning said in his 16 years in law enforcement, he's never seen an addict stockpile goods. He said addicts would sell items as soon as they got them in order to buy more drugs.
Carla Smith, jail commander at the Jefferson County Jail, said Stewart had a negative attitude during his time in jail. Stewart was disrespectful to jailers, would jam the lock to his cell and act out when receiving discipline.
"His problem is he doesn't respect authority," Smith said.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor D.J. Mote said Stewart's behavior in jail shows his character when he's not under the influence of drugs.
"You don't have to be that way to a jailer. And Mr. Stewart was," he said.
Sheriff John Wallace filed paperwork with the court requesting Stewart's good-time credit be revoked. The credit gives inmates two days credit for every day served. Stewart had been in jail for 311 days, but because of the behavior cited by the jail staff, Frazier ruled that Stewart will receive no good-time credit for any of those days.
Culotta requested purposeful incarceration so Stewart could receive drug treatment.
Mote agreed on purposeful incarceration, but thought Stewart should serve eight years in prison and 13 years on probation.
Before announcing the sentence, Frazier said she felt Stewart was a danger to the community based on the nature of the offenses he pleaded guilty to.