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New charges lead to 14-year sentence here

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

 

A 43-year-old man will have more than 14 years in prison to think about his decision to set two quarry trucks on fire in Franklin County last spring.

When the Franklin County crimes occurred, it had been eight years since Joseph Edward James was in Pulaski County Circuit Court on convictions of burglary and grand larceny. Thursday, Judge Marcus Long Jr. revoked nearly half of the 29-year, nine-month suspended sentence remaining on the local convictions, sending James to prison for 13 years, nine months.

Defense attorney Angi Simpkins asked the judge to take into consideration that James is serving a four-year sentence in Franklin County and is facing revocation of nearly four years in Montgomery County on a 2005 conviction there. She requested that any sentence given here run concurrently (at the same time) with the one in Franklin County.

“What he did in Franklin and Montgomery counties is separate from what he did here,” Judge Long said. “If I make it concurrent it’s like not doing anything. He committed crimes in Pulaski County and he has obligations here that are separate from what he has in other jurisdictions.”

James was convicted in Pulaski County of one count of grand larceny in 2002, one count each of breaking and entering and grand larceny in 2003 and two counts each of breaking and entering and grand larceny in 2005. He was returned to court Thursday on probation violations resulting from the new convictions in Franklin County.

The probation violation was James’ third on the 2002 conviction and his second on the 2003 convictions. Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor said the fact James has violated probation three times on one conviction is an “aggravating condition.”

Fleenor said James “has committed additional offenses similar to what he is on probation for,” referring to the Franklin County convictions for breaking and entering to commit property damage and felony property destruction. “I’m not sure he’s a good candidate for probation. I ask you to revoke his probation and send him to prison for a significant amount of time.”

Repeating what he has said on many occasions, Judge Long told James he doesn’t believe in fourth probation violations. He revoked the full 29 years, nine months, saying, “I probably should just stop right there.” However, he said he wouldn’t impose the full sentence since most of James’ probation violations are first violations.

The judge ordered that James’ nearly 14-year sentence run consecutively to any other sentences, meaning James has at least 18 years to serve. A court date hasn’t been set for the Montgomery County revocation hearing.

Judge Long released James from probation in Pulaski County once he is released from prison. “It’s not worked and you don’t want it to work,” he told James. “I hope you work things out when you get out.”

Although James’ address was listed at Pulaski County at the time of his convictions, it currently is listed as Rocky Mount, which is in Franklin County.