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Archive for Saturday, June 26, 2004

Drug felon freed on bond while pursing appeal

June 26, 2004

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A man recently sentenced in Lawrence to 11-1/2 years in prison for third-time cocaine possession has been freed on bond while he appeals his sentence -- a punishment he says is unjust because of a new law that gives drug offenders probation and treatment.

Dezerro D. Smith, 33, Kansas City, Kan., was released on bond Monday from his sentence at Norton Correctional Facility.

"He should be able to stay out as long as he keeps his nose clean," said Smith's mother, Helen Manning-Colema.

The release came after Jack Murphy, the Douglas County District Court judge who sentenced Smith, granted Smith's request to be allowed bond pending the outcome of the appeal.

The text of the new drug-treatment law says it applies to people sentenced after Nov. 1, 2003. But at Smith's sentencing in February, Murphy found the law didn't apply to Smith because his crime happened before July 1, 2003, the new law's "effective date."

Instead of giving Smith probation and treatment under the new law, Murphy ordered him to the presumed sentence under the old laws: 138 months in prison.

The Journal-World recently reported that some judges statewide are saying that as long as the defendant's sentencing is after Nov. 1, the date of the crime doesn't matter. Those judges are sentencing people whose crimes happened in 2002, 2001 or earlier to probation and treatment.

Smith's only other offense besides cocaine possession was a DUI, according to court records. He'll be out on $10,000 bond and supervised by a probation officer during an appeals process that could last more than a year.

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