"I'm scared to death to go back to the life I was living."
That's what drug defendant Steven S. Starks told the judge at his sentencing hearing Wednesday. The 35-year-old Shelby resident has been in the Huron County Jail for 134 days; Starks said that was the longest time he's ever been sober.
"If you give me a chance, I won't be in front of you again. I promise you that," he told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway.
The judge told Starks he made a wise decision to stay in jail and get sober rather posting a rather low bond.
"I credit you for making that decision," Conway said.
The defendant's criminal record includes multiple drug-related misdemeanors and a 2006 robbery conviction through Richland County. In that case, Starks was sentenced to four years of probation.
"(My client) said he was grateful for being locked up because he was killing himself slowly," defense attorney Alan Levine said. "He understands he needs to change. He wants to change."
Starks, who hadn't been able to post 10 percent of a $5,000 bond, was released from custody after Wednesday's hearing.
In late October, Starks pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine. The conviction is for Aug. 7 traffic stop by the Norwalk Police Department, which received a call about a reckless driver on Main Street.
Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Daivia Kasper has said officers stationed themselves off the street and saw Starks go over the center line several times.
"He said he was Cody Starks. That is Steven Starks' brother," Kasper said.
Officers found a prescription bottle in the defendant's name which contained some Xanax pills and a "white rock substance wrapped in cellophane," Kasper said. Police determined the vehicle didn't belong to either of the brothers.
On Wednesday, the judge gave Steven Starks a 180-day discretionary jail term and fined him $500, but credited for him already serving 134 days. The discretionary sentence means the time could be served at the discretion of his probation officer, who also could ask to have the jail term waived if he is doing well on community control.
While on three years of probation, Starks will be supervised at a high level and is subject to random drug screens. He must undergo substance abuse counseling and reimburse police $40 to cover the cost of lab testing. Conway also suspended Starks' driver's license for six months.
If he violates his probation, he faces one year in prison.