Meth hurts community; families

Meth hurts community; families

Meth hurts community; families

Like a bedrock in the storm, Pershing County’s 11th Judicial Court met in Lovelock on Monday. Judge Jim Shirley presided. Deputy DA Jack Bullock represented the State. 

Public Defender Steve Cochran and other lawyers stood by a stream of clients. But a major player in the courtroom dynamic wore no suit, jailhouse stripes, or robe.

Two dime bags of methamphetamine brought chaos into the lives of a Lovelock family. They gathered to support their mother, daughter, and grandmother, Alena Chavez, at her sentencing hearing. 

Todd Plimpton defended Chavez. As the court heard from her loved ones, the attorney observed that there are no victimless crimes.

Each family member, from the eldest to the youngest, said they felt the defendant’s absence from their lives. It had been a long road.

In March 2015 the court arraigned Chavez on charges of drug possession. Ultimately, Judge Shirley granted probation. The defendant would serve her sentence outside prison walls.

Chavez made it to Phase IV of Drug Court, close to completing months of counseling, drug tests and supervision. A chance at a felony-free criminal record motivates many through the non-punitive program.

But the defendant admitted to selling meth on at least three occasions, said Markus Heimbruch from Parole and Probation. He appeared in court with screenshots of drug transactions from her cell phone.

At the time of her arrest police found two baggies of meth in Chavez’ hotel room. But she tested clean. To Deputy DA Jack Bullock that was no cause for celebration.

“I have the utmost respect for the defendant’s family,” he said. “But the defendant had every opportunity to change her behavior. Instead, she graduated from using to selling." 

The court sends a message with each of its decisions, he continued.

“People need to know that if you’re given the opportunity of Drug Court and decide to sell drugs, you’re going to prison.” 

Chavez spoke before the Judge passed sentence.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ve been clean for over a year. I have no excuses. I should go to prison for what I did.”

The Judge agreed. He credited Chavez 95 days for time served. She’ll serve the rest of her 12-36 month sentence in prison.

Scott Alan Reynolds appeared for a pretrial conference. The State charges him with statutory sexual seduction and luring a child. He denies the charges and will stand trial.

David Fischer and Gary Modafferi defend Reynolds. His counsel expressed concern about finding an impartial jury in Lovelock. 

They cited widespread community knowledge of the alleged crime, which occurred in 2015.

The defense wants to submit questionnaires to a pool of about 200 potential jurors before the trial. They will assess each respondent’s exposure and probable impartiality to the case.

Deputy DA Jack Bullock objected that jurors routinely answer the same questions before being sworn in to begin jury duty. He also had concerns about the expense to the county and other logistics.

Fischer and Modafferi remained adamant. They said they’d bear the cost of mailing the questionnaires. 

“We’d be happy with a 50 percent response rate,” said the lawyers.

Judge Shirley listened to both sides of the bench and will decide on the matter shortly.