Jury sentences El Dorado man to 32 years in prison
By KELI JACOBI News-Times Staff A local man was sentenced to a total of 32 years in prison following a fi nding of guilt on numerous drug-related charges by a 12-mem ber jury in Union County Circuit Court on Fri day.
Jerry W. Miller, 27, of 1010 W. Fifth St., was also said to have been a primary participant in an alleged forgery scheme involving two lo cal motel managers who agreed to help in the laundering process of counterfeit money, ac cording to Friday’s testimony.
Jurors found Miller guilty of the following charges and assigned the corresponding sen tences: Possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) with intent to deliver, for which he was sentenced to10 years; manufac ture of a controlled substance (methamphet amine), for which he was sentenced to 10 years; possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to manufacture meth, for which he was sentenced to six years; and fi rst-degree forgery, for which he was sentenced to six years.
Miller, who has three prior felony convic tions, was charged as a habitual offender.
Judge Carol C. Anthony presided over the one-day trial and approved the jury’s decision to run the terms consecutive to one another. Miller’s attorney, William Plouffe, attempted to establish reasonable doubt early in the trial by raising questions about the true ownership of the items seized in the defendant’s effi cien cy apartment, located in the basement of his parent’s home. Plouffe made clear that other known drug users frequented the apartment and took issue with the number of drug-related items which were not found by the authorities, including sulfuric acid, ammonia, or lithium strips.
"Without those things you can’t manufacture meth, can you?" he asked Lt. Brent Reaves of the Union County Sheriff’s Department.
"Yes sir, that’s correct" said Reaves.
Reaves also admitted under cross-examina tion that investigators did not compare the ink on the manufactured money found in a trash bin outside the apartment with that of a printer found inside and seized as evidence. Plouffe also pointed to the accessibility of the trash bin as proof there was reasonable doubt the forged currency may have been planted by someone else.
Most notably, the defendant’s mother implied during testifying that evidence seized by law enforcement may have been planted by them shortly after she was asked to step outside the premises.
But Chief Deputy Prosecutor Caren Harp, whose only two witnesses were Reaves and an expert from the Arkansas Crime Lab, made a strong case that Miller had a history of meth use and that the charges against him were consistent with someone who had not changed for the better.
"This is meth," said Harp during closing, as she held up a small baggy fi lled with powder. "The crime lab report said so. This is drug paraphernalia. Every bit of it is used to manufacture meth. That’s undisputed. The fake $20 bills ... all of it was found in Jerry Miller’s house.
"The question you have to ask yourself now is this. Was this meth possessed with the intent to deliver?" Harp con tinued. "Almost four grams – that’s with intent. These are all things that go along with deal ing drugs ... it’s in his apart ment ... his girlfriend showed offi cers a hole in the fl oor and that’s where Jerry Miller was keeping his drugs."
Miller will serve a minimum of 12 years in prison before parole, if he is given credit for "good time " served, according to Harp.