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Drug charge nets no prison

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A judge believes a confidential police informant may have gone too far in trying to implicate a western Bartholomew County man on drug-dealing charges.

That is one reason why Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Stephen Heimann said he decided that Martin N. Jackson, 26, of 2301 N. County Road 700W, should not serve time behind bars.

Jackson was charged last July with two counts of dealing in a Schedule 2 controlled substance, according to court records.

If convicted on both Class B felonies, Jackson could have been ordered to serve 12 to 40 years in prison, as well as pay fines of up to $20,000.

But the unidentified informant, described by the defendant as a longtime friend, was given hydrocodone pills after complaining she couldn’t afford pain medicine after recent dental surgery, the defendant testified during Thursday’s sentencing hearing.

Since the hydrocodone prescribed to Jackson for treatment of scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, was ineffective in relieving his pain, Jackson offered to give his friend the medicine at no cost, he testified.

It was the informant, who knew Jackson was financially struggling, who insisted on paying for the pain pills, Jackson said.

After examining a confidential pre-sentence report, Heimann said he was convinced the informant “facilitated this activity.”

Testimony from the defendant’s mother, who works professionally with people who are mentally ill, was not challenged by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kathleen Burns or Heimann.

Tracy Jackson said her son was incapable of understanding what he did was wrong and believed he was only trying to help a friend in trouble.

Tracy Jackson also testified that her son requires the vital services of several medical and mental health providers, adding he would lose those services and “shut down into an emotional and suicidal state” if his daily routine was disrupted by a prison sentence.

In a plea agreement accepted last February, Jackson pleaded guilty to two reduced charges: Aiding, inducing or causing possession of a Schedule 2 controlled substance as Class D felonies.

In exchange for the reduced charges, Jackson agreed his sentences would be served consecutively and to allow Heimann to determine the appropriate sentence.

Thursday, Heimann first sentenced Jackson to one year for each of the two counts — and then suspended the sentence.

Heimann said the defendant has been a law-abiding individual most of his life, making him a good candidate for probation.

He also commended Jackson for fully complying with terms for his electronically monitored house arrest while awaiting sentencing.

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