to drug charges

Two plead guilty to drug charges

By Angie Thompson

TIFTON -- Two men facing jury trials on felony drug charges entered last-minute guilty pleas and avoided a trial by jurors already picked to hear the cases in Tift Superior Court. Another jury scheduled to beginning hearing a case this morning will not have to report because that case was continued.

Jurors were chosen Monday to begin hearing Tuesday the case of Keith H. Mann, 44, 104 North St., Ray City. Mann was one of six people arrested last September at the Family Values Inn here on methamphetamine charges.

Mann pleaded guilty late Monday. Chief Tift Superior Court Judge Gary C. McCorvey sentenced him to to serve 11 years, 11 months and 11 days for a charge of manufacturing methamphetamine. The sentence is just shy of the 12-year sentence that would have allowed Mann to appeal the sentence to a committee of judges as too severe.

On a conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine charge, Mann was sentenced to serve 20 of a 30-year sentence in prison with the remainder on probation. He was also sentenced to serve 15 years on probation for a charged of possession of methamphetamine. The sentences run concurrent.

Mann was ordered banished from the Tift Judicial Circuit and ordered to pay $10,000 in fines and additional fees and fines.

Lt. Chris Owens, commander of the Tift County Sheriff's Drug Unit, addressed jurors who were seated in the courtroom when McCorvey told them Mann would not be tried.

Owens said the court asked him to appear to explain the problems methamphetamine manufacturing and abuse brings to the community.

"I told them some of the ingredients needed to make it to let them know what kinds of chemicals these people are dealing with, just to let them know of the magnitude of the problem," Owens said. "That is why the sheriff's office is trying to do away with it."

Mann was taken to the hospital for treatment Monday at 11:30 a.m. after an accident with a chair in an interrogation room at the courthouse. A deputy reported that Mann was talking with his court-appointed defense attorney when the pad that had pulled away from the frame of the chair Mann was sitting on caused him to fall. Mann was treated at Tift Regional Medical Center, in leg irons, and then returned to the custody of deputies.

A jury was also chosen Monday to hear the case of Alphonso Wilson, 35, 3111 Hillcrest Circle. He pleaded guilty to his charges of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and felony possession of marijuana.

Judge J. Harvey Davis, who was expected to preside over the jury trial, accepted Wilson's guilty plea and sentenced him to serve five years of a 10-year sentence in prison on the possession of cocaine with intent to distribute charge, five years on probation for the obstruction charge and to serve five years of a 10-year sentence on the marijuana charge. The sentences were ordered to run concurrent.

Steve Anderson of the Tift County Sheriff's department responded to Wilson's residence Nov. 24 after someone filed a complaint of loud music and an illegally parked vehicle there. When he arrived, Wilson ran from the house with a bag of illegal drugs. A foot chase ensued, Anderson tried to subdue Wilson, and a wrestling match ended with Wilson hitting Anderson in the chest twice, according to reports. Wilson was eventually handcuffed and taken to the Tift County Jail.

Members of third jury who were ordered to report for duty this morning won't have to do so because the case was continued. Jurors were picked Monday to hear the case of Tiffany Hill, 25, of Tifton, who was charged Nov. 24, 2001, with the armed robbery of JoJo's Restaurant here. Hill also faces a connected kidnapping charge.

To contact Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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