Pot theft attempt nets man year in jail | TheUnion.com

Pot theft attempt nets man year in jail

He knew where the marijuana was, and by his own admission, it was his idea to steal it, and he fired a gun when he got there.

But by testifying against others, Michael Brewer avoided prison at his sentencing Monday in Nevada County Superior Court. The 24-year-old Nevada City man instead was sentenced to a year in jail and five years’ probation by Judge M. Kathleen Butz.

With good-behavior credits and plans to enroll in out-of state refrigeration classes next month, the judge ordered him released Aug. 19 – by which time he’ll have credit for 344 days. On the flip side, he faces up to 15 years in prison if he violates probation.

The deal was reached by Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson and defense lawyer Stephen Munkelt largely because Brewer has cooperated against his co-defendants, Michael T. Montes and Barnabas O. Gray.

Under the deal, Brewer testified at his co-defendants’ recent preliminary hearing, and must take the stand again if their cases reach trial.

The three were charged with trying to steal marijuana while armed from a San Juan Ridge residence Oct. 3. Brewer knew the pot owner, had partied at her home before, and it was his idea to steal the pot, he claimed.

But plans went awry when the trio woke up the residents while trying to shoot a lock off a greenhouse, Brewer testified. Next, he claimed, the three shot at residents who tried to stop them.

“This is a situation that could’ve become very tragic,” the judge said.

The case got Brewer a conviction for conspiracy to commit robbery, which normally requires prison time under state law – unless leniency can be justified.

Butz sided with the lawyers’ stance that Brewer has been cooperative. She also noted that his criminal record was limited to a series of misdemeanors and that his parents, in court Monday, have been supportive.

But she was concerned about his admitted methamphetamine habit and required him to get treatment. The judge also cited a probation department report that stated he was a bully and had a tendency to start fights.

Noting Brewer’s strict probation conditions, the judge said, “The opportunity is now. It truly is now, and I hope you understand the significance of that.”

Brewer nodded slowly.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated case Monday, Gray was arraigned on new felony charges stemming from a fight in the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility. The complaint alleged that Gray assaulted another inmate June 1.

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