(Neb)-Time Served For Texas Man In Dawes Co Drug Case
A Texas man who pleaded No Contest in an unusual Dawes County drug case late last spring has been sentenced to time served. Matthew Batiste had faced up to 20-years in prison for possession with intent to deliver psychedelic mushrooms
Batiste had been stopped for speeding in a rental car rented by another individual and that was 30-minutes beyond its return deadline in Texas. Officers had placed him in a squad car while determining the status of the rental car when they smelled the odor of marijuana on him.
Batiste admitted he'd smoked pot in Texas and when the officers searched the vehicle after being told by the rental company to seize it, they found methamphetamine, hashish wax, psylocibin mushrooms and marijuana.
Batiste was charged with 3 felony and 2 misdemeanor drug counts, but took a plea agreement after Dawes County District Judge Travis O'Gorman threw out some of the statements he made to police at the scene.
At sentencing, County Attorney Vance Haug, Public Defender Jarrod Jaeger, and Judge O'Gorman all agreed that Batiste was an excellent candidate for probation with no significant criminal record who had made a single dumb mistake.
Jaeger said his client "got caught up in something he shouldn't have been anywhere near" while O'Gorman said Batiste was "not the type of defendant I usually see," pointing to Batiste's job as a youth counselor in Texas and that the organization wants him back, even after his drug case.
Batiste had told investigators his cousin was the "ringleader" in the drug deal and that he'd gone along to protect two young women who were also involved, and O'Gorman said he believed him. The others have already been convicted of less serious crimes than Batiste.
O'Gorman said that judges are given much discretion in sentencing specifically for cases such as this and since he was certain Batiste would never put himself in such a situation again, he was sentencing him to 1 year in county jail.
Under Nebraska's good time rules, that meant that the 214 days Batiste had already spent in jail fulfilled the minimum time he had to serve and would be free to go after paying court costs.
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