A local man arrested numerous times over the last several years for drug-related offenses was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison last week.
Lenard Jay Miller, 48, appeared in District Court Friday to be sentenced on charges of possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a stun device and conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substance Act.
During the hearing, Miller explained to the court that with his latest arrest he had finally come to the realization that he truly has a bad drug problem.
While he said he knew probation was likely not an option for him, especially with his extensive criminal record, he asked the judge to at least sentence him to spend time somewhere he could continue receiving professional counseling to help overcome his addiction.
“I’m not asking you to not hold me accountable. I know I need to be held accountable. I have a drug problem. I’ve been trying to address my problem, Westcare gave me a chance down here in the jail and I took advantage of that opportunity and have come to realize what my problems really are. I had a case worker who was able to point out some things that I couldn’t see. I know that I need some psychological evaluation and counseling sessions and I know I need drug treatment,” he explained.
“I know that I have a bad history. But if you look at it, it basically progressed the more the drug use progressed. It went from alcohol to cocaine to crack to meth and all through that time is when I did stupid things. If I hadn’t used drugs, which is my fault, half of those things wouldn’t have happened. Again all I’m asking your honor is, I’m not even stupid enough to think about asking for probation or anything like that, but like my counsel said, I’ve done probation and parole and I do well on supervision. Maybe I need structure like that all the time. If you’re not willing to do that, I would ask that you run my time concurrent so I can get back to my family and try to be a father like I’m supposed to be,” he said.
Miller’s attorney, Jason Earnest, further told the judge he believed his client was sincere in wanting to get sober and as such asked the judge to run any time she planned to give him on his three cases concurrent.
“He recognizes what he’s done is wrong; he talks about his history. There are some concerns, most notably judge, in 1985 he was convicted of attempted murder for hire, regardless of the amount of time passed, that’s a conviction that leaps off the page to any judge. We’ve talked to you about that and how later on officers involved in that case tried to appeal to the West Virginia court or Virginia court to lessen the sentence, but at any rate judge, he knows his history and while all these crimes aren’t related in times, facts and circumstances, they are related in the fact they show what happens when someone has an addiction and really gets out of control,” he said.
Although both Miller and his attorney asked the judge for a lesser sentence than that recommended by the Division of Parole and Probation, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Ferguson told the court he believed Miller deserved to do more time than that for which the defense was asking.
“Your honor I would agree with part of what Mr. Earnest said and that is to give Mr. Miller credit for the statement he wrote on his own behalf. I think he advocated very well for himself, he wrote very eloquently and if this were someone coming before the court on a first offense, second offense, perhaps even a third offense, that appeal might carry some weight to sway the court’s decision. But this isn’t a second, third or even fourth offense … this would be, if I’m right, an eighth, ninth and tenth offense if I’m doing the math right. He’s had numerous felony convictions. I believe he’s had four prior prison commitments and one of those was a lengthy commitment of 14 years for a very serious offense,” he said. “Mr. Miller has one of the worst records you’re likely to run across.”
Judge Kimberly Wanker said she tended to agree with the state, explaining to Miller that his actions have had far-reaching consequences in the local community.
“The thing in your letter that really stuck out in my mind was that you said Judge Wanker, I don’t hurt people. But that’s not true. In fact, I’ve had a number of people come through the Drug Court that said they had gotten drugs from you. You have been kind of a drug kingpin coming in and out of my courtroom week after week. So you did hurt people. Not so much with your drug use, but you sold to a lot of other people,” she said.
Wanker then sentenced Miller to 19 to 48 months for possessing a controlled substance, 28 to 72 months for illegally possessing a stun device and 24 to 60 months for conspiring to violate the controlled substances act.
She then ordered that each of those sentences run consecutive to one another, meaning he will have to serve time on one case before he can begin serving time on the next.