A man convicted of having more than 2 grams of heroin in his dresser promised the judge "this will never happen again."
David A. Dalton's brief statement and apology were exactly what his defense attorney, Tom Nicholson, encouraged him to say moments before Thursday's sentencing hearing. Nicholson was overheard telling his client to "say exactly that," but nothing else.
Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway didn't impose any jail time for Dalton, but ruled he would face 18 months in prison if he violates the terms of his three years of intense probation. Dalton, who was fined $250, must undergo random drug screens as well as substance abuse counseling and treatment.
"It was a hung jury. I'm giving you a chance to hang yourself," Conway told the 43-year-old defendant.
"The jury was inconclusive about your guilt. ... You had several people come in and testify you'd stopped using (drugs)," the judge said.
After a two-day trial in mid-January, a jury couldn't reach a verdict about Dalton being charged with possession of heroin and possession of criminal tools. Jurors deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours.
But four days later, Dalton entered a "no contest" plea to possession of heroin and was found guilty of the fourth-degree felony.
Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Daivia Kasper, who represented the state in Dalton's trial, was asked Thursday why the defendant pleaded "no contest" after there was a hung jury.
"There was no prejudice to the state when the jury was hung," Kasper said, meaning Dalton could have been retried on the charges.
Prosecutors didn't request DNA analysis on the evidence; that's typically used for burglaries, violent crimes and sex offenses. Kasper said she believed the state's case was strong enough without it.
"We thought there was sufficient evidence without further extensive and intensive analysis," she said.
On July 23, the Willard Police Department used a "knock and announce" search warrant at Dalton's apartment at 313A Woodland Ave. in the city. Police found 37 bindles of heroin in the man's dresser -- a piece of furniture Dalton's wife had testified she never bothered and was only used by her husband.
Detective Jeremy Draper earlier received a tip about suspected drug activity at Dalton's apartment. The detective conducted surveillance, found drug paraphernalia when he searched through two trash bags in a Dumpster he determined serviced Dalton's residence and obtained the warrant.
About the trash Draper found in the Dumpster, the detective testified he found some used cotton -- which later field-tested positive for heroin -- and a piece of tin foil, which was burned on one side and had suspected heroin-related "head lines" on the other.
Draper, who searched Dalton's bedroom July 23, testified he found a capped syringe, spoon, a cotton swab, an open knife and some "bloody tissues" on top of the defendant's dresser. He said the top drawer held men's clothes, a bag of heroin spindles in a bag and a dinner plate with "powdered residue." Draper identified the items using photos that were displayed to jurors on a projection screen.
In a plea deal reached Jan. 22, the state agreed not to oppose Dalton being sentenced to community control sanctions, which could have included six to 18 months of local jail time. Prosecutors also dismissed the possession of criminal tools charge.
Although Dalton has a lengthy criminal record -- which includes prior felonies and prison terms, Conway said "justice will be served" with the "compromise."
However, the judge warned Dalton that probation officers will be keeping a close eye on him.