Kemmitt Preston, facing drug charges, could have pleaded guilty to an offer by prosecutors.
Instead, the 31-year-old went to trial this week, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison without the chance of parole.
Preston was convicted Tuesday of trafficking cocaine, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute and two counts each of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Because of his previous felony convictions, he won’t have the chance of parole during his 25-year prison sentence, followed by 20 years’ probation, said Wayne Jernigan, senior assistant district attorney.
“There had been offers made previously — months ago,” he said. “But he turned them all down. He proceeded to trial.”
Preston had first-degree forgery convictions from 1996 and 1997, court records show.
He also had convictions of terroristic threats in 1997 and a weapons charge from 2002.
Drugs had been bought out of a 2807 King St. home in January 2008 and a search warrant was executed at the address on Feb. 5, 2008, Jernigan said. Authorities found Preston, another man and a woman at the home. They also found almost 6 ounces of cocaine, 8 ounces of marijuana and two guns, Jernigan said.
Preston told officers the woman wasn’t responsible, and she was released, he said.
Appearing in Municipal Court after his arrest, Preston testified that the other man had just arrived at the home and was there to collect rent, he added.
Defense attorney Bobby Jones, however, said his client later recanted his testimony.
“Keep in mind, Kemmitt Preston didn’t even have a key to the place,” Jones said of the prosecutor’s allegation that Preston lived at the King Street home. “There’s no absolute evidence on who’s renting what.”
Jones said the other man at the home was to blame for the drugs and his client only kept some belongings there. It was another person who persuaded Preston to claim the drugs at his initial court appearance, Jones said.
“I think, more or less, my client was guilty by association,” he said. “He made a lot of bad choices.”