Two sentenced on meth charges in Cass County Court

Published 1:34 pm Friday, November 12, 2021

CASSOPOLIS — Several area residents were sentenced in Cass County Circuit Court Friday for drug, alcohol and other offenses.

In two methamphetamine cases, a Niles woman was sentenced to a year in jail, while a Marcellus man was sentenced to prison.

Jessica Marie Johnson, 36, of Detroit Road in Niles, pleaded guilty to possession of meth and attempted resisting and obstructing police and was sentenced to 365 days in jail with credit for 79 days served on the meth charge. She was given credit for time served on the other charge. She must pay a total of $1,848.

That incident occurred May 8 in Edwardsburg. Police found her in her vehicle in the parking lot at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post, and she claimed she had run out of gas. She got out of her car and walked away from police when ordered to stop. She then came back and refused to get out of her car where police found meth, Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman said.

She also pleaded guilty to operating while intoxicated and sentenced to 93 days in jail with credit for 63 days served and $940 in fines and costs. She was ordered to report to the jail Friday to start serving the concurrent jail sentences.

The drunk driving incident occurred July 7 in Edwardsburg. Judge Herman said that police responded to a personal injury accident and that Johnson had left the scene. She returned and was found to have a blood alcohol level of .118.

“You have been using meth since you were 20 and also cocaine,” the judge told her. “It’s not just about relapsing on drugs but how you treat people. You were so irate at the hospital that police had to tase and handcuff you.”

Calvin Jay-Philmore Hartzell, 51, of North Maple Street in Marcellus, pleaded guilty to possession of meth and was sentenced to 23 months to 10 years in prison with credit for 47 days already served. He must pay $1,548 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred July 9 in Marcellus when police searched his residence and found meth and other items.

Judge Herman noted that Hartzell had agreed to participate in the Adult Treatment Court program but was expelled shortly after entering it. The judge reported that Hartzell has been to prison previously.

“You were given an opportunity in the treatment court program and you’ve shown you’re not ready to address your addiction problem,” he said. “I would think you would be tired of the revolving door in and out of prison. I don’t see you seriously trying to change your ways.”

A South Bend man was given the chance to stay out of prison after pleading guilty to third offense drunk driving as a habitual offender.

Rex Jason Lamont Garrett, 49, of South Bend, pleaded guilty to third offense drunk driving as a habitual offender and was sentenced to three years’ probation, 30 days in jail with credit for four days served and $2,048 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred May 9, 2020, in Cassopolis when police stopped him on M-60. His blood alcohol level was found to be .225, nearly three times the legal limit. He also faces similar charges in Indiana.

“You have two choices: stop drinking or go to prison,” the judge said.

“If you violate your probation by drinking, realize that you’ll be looking at three years in prison from this court.”

When Garrett asked to be able to serve the jail sentence on weekends so he will not lose his job, Judge Herman said the court had “gone way over backwards” for him.

“You could be looking at prison today. Talk to your employer,” he said.

A Mississippi man caught with a loaded firearm in his vehicle on M-51 after a road rage incident was sentenced to jail.

James Shane Cooley, 50, of Lumberton, Mississippi, pleaded guilty to attempted possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and assault and battery and was sentenced to three months in jail with credit for six days served and $1,275 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Dec. 31, 2020, when Cooley pulled out a gun and pointed it at another car after that car pulled out in front of him on M-51 south of Dowagiac. Cooley was stopped by police near Niles and they found a loaded firearm in his vehicle.

“He needs to understand that guns are deadly weapons and are built to kill,” said Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz. “If you point it at others and threaten them, that’s not what a citizen should be doing. Our hope is that he puts this behind him and pays for his crime. Guns and assaults just don’t mix.”

In other sentencings:

Jerry Lee Thomas, 42, of Wood Street in Vandalia, pleaded guilty to possession of meth and was sentenced to three years’ probation, completion of the Adult Treatment Court and the Twin County Probation program, credit for 143 days served and $2,628 in fines and costs. The incident occurred April 21 in Vandalia.

George Michael Wehrle, 49, formerly of Marcellus, pleaded guilty to third-degree home invasion and was sentenced to two years’ probation, credit for 59 days served, $2,268 in fines and costs and $550 restitution for a broken window. The incident occurred Feb. 10, 2020, when he broke into a church in Marcellus.