Carson given 50-year sentence

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, February 16, 2019

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A Henrietta man was sentenced to 50 years in prison Thursday a week after a Wise County jury found him guilty of a first degree felony drug possession offense.

Michael James Carson

Michael James Carson, 47, faced a punishment range of 25 to 99 years or life in prison after he was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in penalty group 1 – gamma-hydroxybutyric acid – in an amount of 200 to 400 grams. The drug, commonly called GHB, is a depressant also commonly referred to as a date rape drug.

Carson was the driver of a vehicle stopped by Rhome Police Sgt. Brody Brown Jan. 16, 2017. The vehicle was searched after the officer found drug paraphernalia in the pockets of a backseat passenger, Shawn Ingram. A second passenger, Cheryl Piano, was seated in the front seat.

Brown found two bottles containing GHB inside a backpack Carson had previously identified as his own in the trunk.

Carson faced the enhanced punishment range with the 25-year minimum due to previous felony convictions, which were the focus of much of Thursday’s brief hearing in front of 271st District Judge Brock Smith.

Carson was the only witness called to testify. Responding to questions from his attorney, David Holmes, Carson said he claimed the backpack was his because he knew the drugs belonged to Ingram, who wasn’t going to take responsibility for it, and he didn’t want his friend Piano to take the blame.

“I felt I didn’t want her to take the charges for something he did. So when he didn’t take responsibility, I stepped up … I did what I felt was proper to protect a friend,” Carson testified.

He also said he didn’t know Ingram and didn’t know where the GHB came from.

But when cross-examined by Assistant District Attorney Patrick Berry, Carson admitted he purchased the drug for Ingram and delivered it to him.

When asked about his previous assault convictions where his ex-wife was the victim, Carson said he didn’t do what he was convicted of.

Carson also admitted to regularly taking GHB as well as cocaine and methamphetamine and selling drugs.

In his closing argument, Berry asked for a strong sentence in the 50- to 60-year range.

“He has … not accepted direct responsibility for anything he’s done,” Berry said. “He’s not a person who deserves the minimum or anything close to the minimum sentence.”

Prior to the trial, Carson had rejected a plea offer of 40 years from the district attorney’s office.

In addition to the 50-year sentence, Smith also ordered Carson to participate in drug rehabilitation treatment while he is incarcerated.

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