Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Jeremiah Marquez walked out of district court on Tuesday with the deal of a lifetime, but he didn’t make it home as a free man.
Twelfth Judicial District Judge Pattie Swift sentenced him to 90 days in jail, after he pleaded guilty to attempted distribution of a controlled substance (cocaine). She also placed him under intensive supervised probation for two years and ordered him to perform 75 hours of community service, as recommended by the probation department.
The 24-year-old Monte Vista man originally faced more serious drug-related charges, including two additional cases that were pending in Alamosa and Rio Grande counties.
In this case, the district attorney’s office charged Marquez in connection with the Feb. 9, 2012 sale of cocaine to an undercover law enforcement agent. Almost nine months later, he was arrested during a crackdown on an alleged cocaine and methamphetamine distribution ring, leading to additional charges that prosecutors ultimately dismissed.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Loy said he believed that in many ways, the probation department’s recommendations were not appropriate.
He told the court his office had prepared a “very tidy” case against Marquez, who was on probation at the time he committed the February 2012 offense.
On the other hand, Loy noted that Marquez is still a young man who has a fairly limited criminal history.
“It’s a really hard call,” he said.
Deputy Public Defender Amanda Hopkins acknowledged that prosecutors had some evidence to indicate Marquez was involved in the earlier offense.
The defendant took responsibility for his actions, though, and recognized how much harm they may have caused others, she said.
“He doesn’t claim it was someone else,” she added.
Marquez himself admitted he was to blame during his brief remarks to the court.
“I just want to say that I know what I did was wrong,” he said. “It affected my family, the community and those around me.”
In the past, Marquez avoided felony charges under the terms of an earlier Rio Grande County plea deal, which led to his release on probation.
Judge Swift noted that he benefitted from the terms of the latest plea bargain, as well.
Although it’s the first time he’s been convicted of a felony offense, the judge said she must take the case more seriously.
“You need to understand that what you’re doing here causes serious harm, and if you don’t change your behavior, it’s going to get worse,” she said.
She ultimately denied Hopkins’ request for a temporary stay of the jail sentence, and ordered Marquez to submit to random drug tests.
That could present a problem for the defendant, if he can’t submit proof that he has a legal prescription for painkilling medication.
He previously tested positive for opiates. If similar results pop up in the future and he doesn’t have a prescription, he would be violating the terms of his probation.
In addition to the other terms of his sentence, the judge ordered him to maintain full-time employment or education, and to pay standard court costs and fees. She also gave him credit for eight days served.