During the sentencing hearing for Timothy Steuerwald in Clay Circuit Court Monday, Judge Joseph Trout had several issues to handle, including "double jeopardy" for the two charges Steuerwald was convicted for, the amount of incarceration time for his conviction and whether he could participate in a work release program.
On June 3, Steuerwald was convicted during a jury trial for class B felony dealing methamphetamine, class D felony possession of methamphetamine and one class D felony maintaining a common nuisance stemming from an incident where a confidential informant (CI) worked with the Clay County Sheriff's Department to make a "controlled buy/exchange" of pseudoephedrine pills for manufactured methamphetamine at his home on July 10, 2008.
In an effort to avoid the issue of double jeopardy -- a constitutional right prohibiting someone from being tried for the same charge twice -- Trout vacated the judgment of two lesser class D felony convictions.
Trout ruled only on the class B felony conviction, using the State's advisory sentence recommendation for a class B felony conviction, which ranges from 6-20 years in prison and has potential fines of up to $10,000.
Defense Attorney Edward McGlone also requested Steuerwald be allowed to participate in a work release program as part of the sentence.
There were both aggravating and mitigating circumstances for Trout to consider in the case.
Some of the aggravating circumstances (conditions or instances that increase the seriousness or outrageousness of a crime) presented in the sentencing hearing were Steuerwald's extensive criminal record, his inability to be rehabilitated and on going criminal activity and failure to comply with numerous prior court orders.
Some of the mitigating circumstances (those conditions or instances which do not constitute a justification or excuse for an offense, but may be considered as reasons for reducing the penalties imposed in the case) were no one was harmed or any property damaged as a result of the offense, he is instrumental in regard to managing the affairs of the family farm and there would be some hardship on a unidentified minor dependent for which Steuerwald was ordered to pay child support.
Trout ruled the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating ones.
In the Sentencing Order, the mitigators were considered "slight" because there "was ample evidence" Steuerwald's family could procure the help necessary to manage the family farm and there was no evidence he was or currently is paying the court ordered child support.
According to the document, the court also rejected the defendant's "specific request" for a mitigating circumstance to be applied in the case. The defense proposed the criminal offense was facilitated when the CI/State supplied the pseudoephedrine pills during the controlled buy.
Trout ruled the "aggravating circumstances taken as a whole, and especially in light of the defendant's extensive prior criminal record and probation violations, outweigh any consideration of the mitigating factors."
Steuerwald was sentenced to the maximum sentence of 20 years incarceration at the Indiana Department of Correction, with 15 years to be executed and five years suspended. Given good-time credit, if earned, he was also credited for 76 actual days previously served.
Upon release, Steuerwald will be placed upon formal probation for three years and ordered to obey all laws, pay court costs and all fees and fines incurred in the matter, be subject to random screens for controlled substances, participate in alcohol/drug counseling and make restitution to the Clay County Sheriff's Department in the amount of $37.
According to courthouse officials, McGlone filed a Notice To Appeal in the case on Monday.