13th District Circuit Judge David Talley handed down a 35-year sentence to a man Thursday who smoked methamphetamine the day after he dismissed himself from a drug program.
Charges against Anthony Lyndell Franklin include robbery, battery in the second degree, theft of property for a debit/credit card or an account (habitual offender), possession of controlled substance methamphetamine or cocaine, less than two grams and possession of drug paraphernalia to ingest-inhale.
Franklin, 29, told the court he walked out of the Hope Center in Russellville after a week because he said he feared developing COVID-19 there. He said his mother and wife had tested positive for the virus and that a cousin had died for it.
However, once he left Russellville, he did not call the prosecutor’s office to tell them about the situation and did not call his parole officer, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ryan Phillips said. Instead, he took methamphetamine. Franklin said that was because he was scared of going to another facility.
Days after he left the facility, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office found him at his home.
Franklin’s attorney Garnet Norwood of Texarkana, said he understands his client being scared of COVID.
“In all fairness, COVID is scary and it kills some people,” Norwood said. “People have a right to fear the COVID virus. Why he didn’t report this, I don’t know.”
Norwood argued that he was told Franklin had mental problems that were discussed in a 2016 report from the South Arkansas Regional Health Center in Magnolia which offers counseling and other services for mental health. However, a more recent report conducted in 2019 by the agency said Franklin was essentially trying to get out of working, Phillips said.
“The entire basis of this was to get on SSI (suspended imposition of sentence),” Phillips said.
After the judge passed down the 35-year prison sentence, Norwood quickly reacted.
“I believe that’s the biggest sentence I evert got for a drug case,” Norwood said.
Talley immediately fired back. “I don’t think that is an accurate description,” Talley said.
“Well, I’ll withdraw it,” Norwood said.
Jonathan Berry earned 15 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections and 26 years of suspended imposition of sentence for a damaging property on August 19, 2020, in excess of $10,000, theft of property valuing more than $25,000 and leading police on a chase. At the time police caught up with Berry, who was on methamphetamine, he backed up into two police cars causing $9,494 of damage.
“I understand and I’m not making excuses for it but I was not in my right mind. I’m asking that I at least get something for my drug addiction,” Berry said with his head hanging down.
Talley told Berry there are drug addiction programs at the ADC but he would have to sign up for them himself. If he chose not to sign up for one of the programs and was released from prison, the state can revoke his SIS. Talley said Berry had a lot of time hanging over him so he should take the courses and get the certification.
Berry said he went to the Magnolia police station the night of the crime before anything happened but did not say why he went. He did say that he couldn’t believe no one took him in at that time for the way he knows he was acting under the influence of methamphetamine.
Christopher James Manning Jr., received a fine of $1,000 and five years’ probation for stealing a bag from the Dollar Tree worth $1,972. Manning approached a Dollar Tree employee who was attempted to make a night deposit, and got the money bag before she could make the deposit.
Manning is not to have any contact with the employee.
He was represented by Alex Morphis of the James Law Firm in Little Rock.