By MELINDA WILLIAMS
A Pulaski man received months, instead of years, to serve on a probation violation Thursday as the result of a snafu that the judge said kept him from having “his day in court.”
Terrell Marquis Love, 27, was in court for violating conditions of probation by failing to report a new charge to his probation officer, Don Rupe.
Rupe said Love has 13 years, 10 months of suspended time remaining on March 2012 convictions of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and two counts of distribution of cocaine. He said Thursday’s probation revocation hearing was the result of Love failing to inform him of a marijuana possession charge this past March.
On cross-examination by defense attorney Mark Hicks, Rupe acknowledged Love was convicted of the marijuana charge in Pulaski County General District Court without Love being present for the trial. He also agreed with Hicks that Love was in jail at that time and that the jail failed to transport Love to court for the hearing.
Circuit Court Judge Marcus Long Jr. said that while the revocation is for failing to report the charge, not the conviction, to Rupe, “It concerns me he didn’t have his day in court.” He noted that Love couldn’t very well get to court if he was in jail and he wasn’t transported to court.
Hicks said Love didn’t know he had been convicted of the charge until he informed him during their first consultation July 26.
The judge said Love has 60 days to correct the lower court issue by requesting a new trial. Therefore, he offered to postpone the revocation hearing until that situation can be remedied.
Hicks said his client would prefer to get the revocation hearing out of the way, so he asked the judge what sentence Love would be receiving with the marijuana conviction on his record.
Judge Long said he hadn’t decided on a sentence yet.
“I have something in mind, but that’s changed,” he told Hicks.
Hicks asked if the change benefits or hurts his client.
The judge said it was to Love’s benefit, but it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to reveal the sentence so Love could decide whether to proceed or take care of the earlier conviction.
“It seems he wouldn’t want the conviction on his record,” Long added.
Love at one point decided he wanted to address the lower court situation first, but after somewhat lengthy discussion of the matter and some “hints” from the judge, he decided to continue with the revocation.
The judge hinted that Love would be facing “years” to serve on the revoked probation if he were tried again and convicted of the marijuana charge. If he proceeded Thursday, Judge Long said the sentence would be “months” and if Love were retried and cleared of the marijuana charge the sentence would consist of “fewer months.”
“You do have a conviction (since being placed on probation), but I don’t like the way it happened,” Long commented.
In the end, Love was ordered to serve 10 months of the remaining sentence on his cocaine convictions. He will be placed on active probation for an additional five years upon release from prison.