Christopher Michael Walker, 33, Minot, pleaded guilty to two Class AA felony drug charges Monday afternoon. His other two charges, including another Class AA felony and a Class C felony, were dismissed.
For both charges, Walker was sentenced to 15 years with five years suspended, for a total of 10 years to be served. Northwest District Judge Douglas Mattson said the actual amount of time to be served will be determined by the Department of Corrections, which is part of the executive branch of government, but that based on a prior felony conviction from Utah Walker will have to serve a minimum of five years. He was also assessed $1,550 in total fines and fees.
The charges stem from a May 31 bust during the execution of a search warrant at a southwest Minot home. Three other people were arrested at the home.
Of the arrested, Maisie Elizabeth Barnson, 34, Minot, and Shannan Mae Davis, 29, Minot, have both already pleaded guilty to some of their charges in court and are already serving their sentences. Susan Diane Hanenberg, 56, Minot, has a jury trial scheduled next year.
Of all the arrests, though, Walker had the most charges. They started with unlawful manufacture of cocaine, unlawful possession of cocaine with intent to deliver or manufacture, unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver or manufacture, and unlawful possession of marijuana.
The methamphetamine charge was changed to a second count of manufacturing cocaine.
The factual basis for that was that at the time the search warrant was served, a glass jar containing cocaine, baking soda and water was inside the microwave with 55 seconds left to cook. The introduction of heat to those ingredients is a recipe for creating crack cocaine. Paraphernalia, such as smoking implements, as well as individual baggies with a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine, were also found in the search.
The charges were elevated because the home was within 1,000 feet of a school Edison Elementary.
During the hearing there was a bit of confusion on Walker's part regarding jurisdictional rights for
prosecuting a crime. When reading the state's judgement, prosecutor Kelly Dillon, the deputy state's attorney for Ward County, said that the judgement would be non-binding with federal court, which means that the charges could come up again within federal jurisdiction, particularly over the fact that he had a Ruger assault-style rifle in his possession.
Walker asked if this would constitute double jeopardy, the legal term for charging a person twice for the same offense.
Mattson said he didn't know if Walker would be charged in federal court and then said that in their discussion they could go all the way back to the basics of the Federalist Papers to explain the divisions of government but that they don't need to do that.
"I am a user and am accountable for the drugs found in my home," Walker said of the charges, but added that he was confused at the time he was interviewed by law enforcement and that at the time they came to his home he was purchasing drugs and not distributing them.
Mattson would have none of that.
"Mr. Walker, I think you should be very grateful for what your attorney was able to negotiate for you," Mattson said.
"I was at a point in my life where the consequences didn't compare to the release," Walker said of his convictions in his final statements, and then tried to define his character as someone who has contributed to society and his community, has raised a family and has even obtained the highest level at his job but had been living a double life of drugs and alcohol at the time and regrets that decision.