NEW MADRID - A Commerce man has been sentenced to 20 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, according to Paul Boyd, prosecuting attorney for Scott County.
According to reports, James E. Howell had pled guilty to manufacturing methamphetamine in Scott County on Dec. 15, 2002, in the New Madrid County Circuit Court.
Howell had pled guilty as a prior felony drug offender, having previously been convicted of drug-related charges and spent time in a Missouri prison and a federal prison. On July 19, he pled open to the charge, understanding the state would request a 20-year prison sentence to be served and he could request leniency and ask to be placed in a long term treatment program by the court. Based on his plea, Howell could have received up to 30 years in prison.
At sentencing, Boyd requested a 20-year sentence from the court for Howell manufacturing methamphetamine. The court followed the state's request having given consideration to Howell's pre-sentence investigation report and letters from his family.
At the sentencing, the court commented that Howell's case was a sad story but the overriding factors for his request for leniency in the case were how he had exposed his children to drugs and how he and an operational methamphetamine lab in his home.
The evidence against Howell was obtained through a search warrant on Dec. 15, 2002, at Howell's residence where officers from the SEMO Drug Task Force and the Scott County Sheriff's Department seized marijuana and a methamphetamine lab.
Howell was at the residence with his two sons and one of their friends. The officers reported the house reeked of marijuana and a methamphetamine lab. During the search, the officers recovered a fully operational meth lab and marijuana which was found in almost every bedroom in the house.
The officers recovered over 140 grams of methamphetamine, over 100 grams of a liquid containing pseudo ephedrine and over 298 grams of marijuana.
"Howell received a sentence that is proportionate to his criminal history and the evidence surrounding the charges that he faced if he had gone to trial," stated Boyd. "What he has done to his family in the past because of his criminal behavior and what the time away from the family will do to them in the future because of these charges will be the unfortunate legacy he leaves them.
"Drug crimes are considered by many in the criminal justice system as non-violent felonies that only harm the individual who commits the crime. Nothing can be farther from the truth, drugs breed violence and misery on varying scales. One only has to look at this case to know that Howell's involvement in the drug trade has negatively impacted his family, his friends and the community at large."