Efforts by the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office to sentence a convicted drug dealer to prison were rebuffed Thursday when the defendant was ordered to intensive supervised probation.
In March, a Moffat County jury convicted Sherry Nelson of distribution of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance, both felonies. She also was convicted of misdemeanor no-injury child abuse, a charge that stemmed from Nelson selling narcotics near her child.
During a May hearing, District Attorney Bonnie Roesink petitioned 14th Judicial District Chief Judge Michael O'Hara to sentence Nelson to prison. However, the judge delayed the hearing so alternative options could be researched.
The county's probation department had recommended that Nelson, who has no previous felony convictions, be sentenced to supervised intensive probation.
On Thursday, Roesink reiterated her position on wanting prison time for Nelson. Nelson's attorney, Kristopher Hammond of Steamboat Springs also asked the court for probation.
O'Hara, who said during the May hearing that he was torn between probation's recommendation and the usual standard of sentencing convicted dealers to prison, sided with the intensive supervised probation recommendation.
The judge ordered Nelson subject to ISP for six years.
Probation department supervisor Annette Norton said ISP is "the highest level of supervision the probation department provides."
It includes a combination of conditions such as electronic monitoring, an increased number of home, work and office visits with a probation officer, travel restrictions, treatment recommendations and drug testing.
Norton said the time length of the probation sentenced could be lessened if Nelson complies with all the requirements and is found to have no additional criminal contact, charges or on-going investigations.
If Nelson violates probation stipulations, Nelson would be subject to go back before the judge and would most likely be sentenced to prison, Norton said.
Roesink said she wanted a prison sentence for Nelson because that's what the community expects for convicted distributors. Nelson compounded her crime by selling narcotics with her child nearby, the district attorney said.
In other court news, a new felony prosecutor has been hired to work in the Moffat County office, Roesink said Monday.
Bretty Barkey, a former Colorado Springs prosecutor, has been pegged to replace Russell Wasley, who had been on staff for about nine months before leaving in May.
Barkey's first day is June 13.
"He's a real gem," Roesink said. "We're lucky to get him."
Barkey will handle the higher-tiered felonies, Roesink said, while current deputy district attorneys Jeremy Snow and Ed Veronda will prosecute misdemeanors and lower class felonies.
Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.