Judge Rocky Coss handed down a number of prison sentences on Thursday in Highland County Common Pleas Court, one of which sent a Hillsboro man to prison for four years on drug and firearm charges.
Gerald Wayne Denise, 33, Hillsboro, was sentenced to four years in prison after he pled guilty to illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs, having weapons under disability and a forfeiture specification.
Denise said he hopes to reform himself in prison, and apologized to the court.
“I’m trying to better my life,” he said. “I just want to apologize to the court for everything I’ve done. Sorry for your time.”
The sentence was ordered to be served consecutive to a prison sentence Denise is currently serving for a separate conviction.
Windle Ray Tackett, 50, Lebanon, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, consecutive to a current prison sentence, after he pled guilty to failure to register a change of address as a sex offender.
Tackett was convicted of sexual battery in August of 2013 and sentenced to three years in prison. He was released in March of this year, and apparently incarcerated again after an incident during which he fled from police in Greenfield and was apprehended at a home in Hillsboro.
Tackett offered no apology, but said he looks forward to getting out of prison.
“I’ll be 55 when I get out, and I’ve got big plans in Highland County,” he said.
The most severe sex offenders are given a Tier III designation. They are subject to lifetime address registration and must verify the address every 90 days. This tier includes sex offenses that range from rape, sexual battery and murder with sexual motivation, to kidnapping of a minor to engage in sexual activity, to unlawful death or termination of pregnancy as a result of committing a felony with sexual motivation.
Chelsa Whitley, 29, Chillicothe, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to her grandmother after she pled guilty to theft from a person in a protected class.
During the hearing, Highland County Prosecuting Attorney Anneka Collins read two letters from Whitley’s family members saying she had repeatedly stolen from relatives, and her drug addiction had caused substantial emotional harm to the family.
The letters said Whitley had squandered opportunities to recover, and asked the judge to send her to prison.
Defense attorney Adam King, representing Whitley, said his client was aware addiction had “ruined her life,” and that she had taken responsibility for her actions. King asked the court to sentence Whitley to community control sanctions and drug treatment.
Whitley said she has not used heroin since 2013, and apologized for the “chaos” she had caused in her family.
Before ordering the prison sentence, Coss said his duty as a judge is to protect the public, and in this case, Whitley’s grandmother.
Brian Andrew Wasson, 37, whose most recent listed address was the Montgomery County Homeless Shelter, was sentenced to nine months in prison in addition to a sentence he is currently serving on a separate conviction, after he pled guilty to non-support.
Wasson said he “found religion” in prison, and wanted to change his ways, adding that he did not wish to argue for any particular sentence for himself, but instead wanted to allow the judge to make the decision himself.
“It’s something I talk to God a lot about,” he said to Coss. “I want to leave (the prosecution and defense) out of this and leave it up to you.”
Coss said that while “faith in God is important,” he felt the colloquial phrase “God helps those who help themselves” was appropriate for the scenario.
Coss said Wasson had “by God’s grace,” been given resources to take care of his children and reform his ways, and that it was his responsibility to use them wisely.
“You answer to God for your sins, but you have to answer to the law for not taking care of your children,” Coss said.
• Joshua Moore, 24, Portsmouth, was sentenced to seven months in prison, in addition to a current prison sentence, after he pled guilty to aggravated possession of drugs.
• David Allen Antonio Fleming, 23, Dayton, was sentenced to six months in prison, in addition to a current prison sentence, after he pled guilty to breaking and entering.
• Charles Colburn, 47, Chillicothe, was sentenced to 20 months in prison after pleading guilty to operating a vehicle under the influence with three or more prior violations, endangering children, and forfeiture specification. Additionally, his drivers’ license was suspended for five years.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.