It was an emotional Wednesday morning in Clay Circuit Court, as Jessie Allen Sowers was formally arraigned for his alleged involvement in the death of Haley Bryan on New Year's Day.
Bryan, 17, Clay City, died at St. Vincent Clay Hospital of an alleged overdose after she and three friends smoked the drug contained in a stolen Fentanyl Transdermal System pain patch.
"This is about as devastating as it gets," Circuit Court Judge Joseph Trout told The Brazil Times after the court proceedings.
Appearing without an attorney, Sowers, who turned 18-years-old in December, and his family members, struggled to fight back tears as Trout took the time to explain each step of the court proceedings and the charges in detail.
He was formally charged with (count 1) class B felony dealing or delivering a controlled schedule 1 substance, (count 2) class D felony possession of a controlled substance, (count 3) class D felony conspiracy to commit theft, two class A misdemeanor charges (counts 4 and 5) of false informing and interference with the reporting of a crime and (count 6) a class B misdemeanor charge of visiting a common nuisance.
A class B felony, the highest charge filed against Sowers at this time, is punishable with a prison sentence for a guilty conviction/plea agreement ranging from 6-20 years (with an advisory by the state recommendation of 10 years) and potential fines up to $10,000. A class D felony is punishable with six months-3 years in prison and potential fines up to $10,000.
The punishment for a class A misdemeanor conviction is 0-1 year in prison and up to a $5,000 fine, while the sentence for a class B misdemeanor conviction is 0-180 days and a potential fine of $1,000.
Trout also explained that, after taking into consideration the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the case, sentences could run consecutive (each sentence to run after another without interruption) or concurrent (all sentences served simultaneously or side by side).
Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger said his office was researching the matter to make a future recommendation to the court. However, he believed preliminary information indicates sentences ordered on counts 1, 2 and 6 could run concurrent, while counts 3, 4 and 5 could be ordered to run consecutive.
Sowers entered a not guilty plea in court and requested an attorney from the public defender's office.
Trout appointed Matthew Effner to the case and tentatively scheduled a jury trial for April 12.
In the matter of Sowers current $25,000 cash bond (with no 10 percent allowed), Reberger used the state's guidelines to point out the serious nature of the allegations, the fact the investigation continues and toxicology results are pending to request the bond remain the same.
Although Trout agreed and remanded Sowers back into the custody of the Clay County Sheriff's Department, he told Sowers the court would notify Effner immediately so that he could begin working on the case as soon as possible.
A no contact order was also issued in the case so that Sowers, if released, would not have any contact with the other two juveniles alleged to be involved in the case.
Appearing in Clay Circuit Court for a detention hearing Tuesday, the two 17-year-old juvenile suspects -- a male and a female -- are waiting for formal allegations to be filed in the matter. According to Reberger, the court gave the state 72 hours to file petitions alleging juvenile delinquency by the youths in each of pending matters.