Last updated: December 05. 2013 10:11PM - 2099 Views
By - dcaldwell@civitasmedia.com

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Three people expecting to be sentenced Thursday in Harlan Circuit Court saw a different turn of events.

Harlan Circuit Court Judge Henry Johnson rejected plea agreements for Debra Jo Saylor, Richard Coots and Kathy Rice, who were on the docket for sentencing.

Saylor, 45, of Harlan, was before Johnson on four cases involving drug trafficking charges and persistent felony offender. Her charges included first-degree trafficking a controlled substance on two indictments, second-degree trafficking a controlled substance on a third indictment and first- and second-degree trafficking a controlled substance on a fourth indictment.

Johnson read the Commonwealth’s recommendation of five years in prison that would run concurrent with the other cases. It was also recommended that the sentence by probated for five years with the first year supervised with conditions. She would be ordered to successfully complete an in-house rehabilitation program for no less than nine months.

Johnson asked if Saylor had received any rehabilitation in the past.

It was discovered that Saylor had spent some time in prison, was given a chance at the Drug Court program, and a rehabilitation program.

Saylor’s attorney, Laura Karem, said she was referred to Drug Court on her 2009 cases and didn’t make it very long in the program.

“Through Probation and Parole, where she is on parole for those cases still, they had recommended if we try to work out a plea offer that would allow us to order her into a long-term rehab,” Karem said.

Johnson wasn’t pleased with the plea offer.

“I am going to reject this plea. I think you have had too many bites at the apple – too many chances already, and it would set a precedent. I am certainly not going to give everybody that treatment,” Johnson said. “I won’t accept a plea that does not involve incarceration and with a reduction from PFO 1st down to five years probated – I’m not going to do that.”

Johnson said Saylor’s cases would be passed for two weeks until they could be renegotiated.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Parker Boggs asked that a trial date be set for the cases, as well, which was set for March 19.

Rice, 29, of Harlan, was scheduled to be sentenced on multiple indictment charges for trafficking a controlled substance.

Johnson rejected the plea agreement for Rice, who also had a recommendation for probation with no conditions of rehab. Johnson said she has multiple indictments indicating the sale of various drugs.

“That’s an indicator of a person who offers full service drug sales,” Johnson said.

A new hearing date was set for Rice on Feb. 14.

Coots, 51, of Ages, was charged with first-degree trafficking a controlled substance on a one-count indictment. His sentence recommendation was for two years probated.

Johnson rejected the plea agreement, and he agreed that he would be open for a pretrial diversion with Drug Court. A new hearing date was set for Feb. 14.

Johnson said he wanted an agreement where there would be punishment and rehabilitation.

In other court action, Sherry Strunk Stewart, 43, of Evarts, was sentenced by Special Judge Steve Hurt on a multiple count indictment.

Stewart was sentenced on seven counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument to two years in prison. The sentenced was probated for five years with the first year supervised. She was also ordered to make monthly restitution payments as ordered.

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