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Heroin defendant is arraigned, sentenced in same day

Cary Ashby • Apr 16, 2013 at 9:07 AM

An arraignment, guilty plea and sentence.

It all happened within a matter of hours for former Norwalk defendant Justin A. Willard, 27.

On Monday morning, Willard, of Reynoldsburg, was in Huron County Common Pleas Court for his arraignment, where he entered a "not guilty" plea. By that afternoon, he was back in the courthouse to plead guilty to possession of heroin.

Grand jurors met Friday, but the Huron County Clerk of Courts office didn't release the indictments until Monday -- the same day Willard pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison.

Huron County Public Defender David Longo said he had talked to Willard, who indicated Monday morning he wanted to plead guilty. After reviewing the case, Longo said he didn't see any defense for his client's case.

"We did his arraignment this morning ... He is still intent on pleading," Longo told Judge Jim Conway.

Willard was sentenced to six months in prison, a joint recommendation between Longo and Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff. The court ordered the defendant to pay $40 in restitution to the Norwalk Police Department to cover the cost of drug testing. While Conway imposed a six-month suspension of his driver's license, the judge said he wouldn't fine Willard because of his inability to pay.

The conviction is for a Dec. 23 incident when officers found marijuana on Willard during his arrest on an unspecified matter.

Willard, who declined to speak on his own behalf, faces a pending probation violation through Morrow County. Longo said the defendant also has a pending felony in Erie County, which "arose from a bar fight."

Investigator Bob McDowell was asked how long it's been since he's seen an arraignment, guilty plea and sentence happen in the same day.

"It's been a while," he said. "It happens, but not very often."

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