By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A Quincy man was sentenced to probation Thursday on a methamphetamine charge.
Jermaine Q. Harper, 33, will be on probation for 36 months after being sentenced by Judge Scott Walden. Walden said he was giving Harper probation because he had little previous criminal history. Harper successfully completed a 30-month term in probation after a 1999 weapons charge.
"I'm not giving you a second chance, but I will give you another chance," Walden told Harper as he handed down the sentence.
Harper was charged in two meth-related cases late in 2012. He was originally arrested as part of a raid on a residence in the 600 block of North Sixth in Quincy on Sept. 4. While he was in the Adams County Jail awaiting a court date on those charges, Harper was indicted Nov. 15 by an Adams County grand jury in connection with an incident that happened Jan. 3, 2011. He pleaded guilty to an amended charge of unlawful meth conspiracy in the 2011 case on Dec. 5 and had the charges in the September case dismissed.
In the 2011 case, Harper originally was charged with meth manufacturing of less than 15 grams, a Class 1 felony. He was charged along with two other people with aggravated meth manufacturing, a Class X felony, in the September case.
First Assistant State's Attorney Gary Farha lobbied for time in the Illinois Department of Corrections for Harper. Farha said he didn't think Harper was being truthful with authorities about how involved he was with the manufacturing. Harper had purchased pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in the meth-making process, 31 times from November 2010 through May 2012. He had been blocked from purchasing twice during that span.
In exchange for his guilty plea, Harper had agreed to a cap of seven years in the DOC.
Chief Public Defender Holly Henze, who served as Harper's attorney, lobbied for probation. She said that Harper hasn't been able to get any treatment since he was arrested in September. As of Thursday, he had spent 156 days in the Adams County Jail. Allowing Harper to receive probation would give him the ability to seek treatment for his meth problem, Henze said.
Harper has admitted that he is addicted to meth.
When given the chance to speak by Walden, Harper also asked for leniency.
"I'm just asking for a second chance to make my wrongs right," Harper said. "It's been a long road of ups and downs in my life. I want the opportunity to show that I can do better."
Harper told Walden that he intends to acquire a GED. He also said that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was arrested in September with Tadarryl Washington and Kristin Washington. He planned to go to a residence with the Washingtons and smoke meth. He said he had been meth-free for two months prior to that, but was ready to break down after failing to find work.
"It seemed like everything was falling, and I wanted something to take the edge off," he said.
Harper said he was at the house for between five and 10 minutes before agents from the West Central Illinois Task Force, Illinois State Police Meth Response Team and Quincy Police Department Emergency Response Team raided the house in the early evening hours of Sept. 4.
Tadarryl Washington, 29, pleaded guilty last month to a charge of unlawful participation in meth manufacturing, agreeing to a sentencing cap of 14 years. Kristin Washington, 26, is scheduled to enter a plea in her case on Feb. 13.
Walden also sentenced Harper to 150 days in the Adams County Jail. Harper received credit for the 72 days he had served since the November indictment and stayed the rest of the sentence. Harper received TASC probation, meaning that if he successfully completes all of the terms of probation the felony conviction will be erased from his permanent record.