Michael Alva told District Judge Steve Ellis he’s found God.
Ellis did not dispute that claim, but told Alva he can’t ignore Alva’s past actions and sentenced him Thursday to 35 years in prison in a drug trafficking case.
Alva, 38, of Giddings, pleaded guilty without benefit of a plea bargain. Ellis sentenced Alva to concurrent terms of 35 and 20 years in two cases of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, and to a concurrent 2-year term in state jail for possession of marijuana.
District Attorney Micheal Murray asked Ellis to consider a range of 45 to 60 years in prison, saying Alva hasn’t learned from previous incarceration and blown chances at probation.
Murray told Ellis he hopes Alva’s religious conversion “is a true conversion” but said Alva should face the consequences of his actions.
Brownwood police arrested Alva on Nov. 7, 2007, after a traffic stop. A drug dog from the sheriff’s office’s K-9 unit alerted on the pickup he was driving, and police seized nearly a pound of marijuana, about 25 grams of methamphetamine and about 1 1/2 grams of cocaine, according to testimony.
Police said earlier they believed the drugs were brought from Dallas to Brownwood to be sold.
Alva, a former Brownwood resident, had been free on bond and testified he was working as a volunteer to help build a church in the Giddings area.
Alva testified he was transporting drugs when he was arrested to try to win the favor of a woman who was also involved with drugs.
He testified he’d had a lifelong call to preach but said “the devil’s come against me.”
“I just thank God today that I’m not in prison for life,” Alva testified. He said living in the drug world “is a coin-toss as to whether you live or die.”
Under a stern cross-examination from Murray, Alva admitted he’d last smoked marijuana about 1 1/2 months ago and has supplied his 19-year-old son with marijuana.
“Do you think it’s a good idea to supply your 19-year-old son with a bag of pot?” Murray asked. Murray asked Alva if he’d been concerned the drugs he delivered could have ended up in the hands of children.
Murray told Ellis, “We’ve been down this road. … this is not his first rodeo with delivery of a controlled substance.”
Defense attorney Landon Thompson told Ellis his client “has come to a point where it’s a wakeup call” and said Alva was “presenting himself on the court’s mercy.” Thompson asked Ellis to take into account that Alva has been productive since being out on bail.
Ellis said he admires the work Alva has been doing and his “steps of faith.”
“There are things I can’t ignore here,” Ellis said, adding that drug offenses are not victimless crimes.
Alva held a Bible as he was led from the courtroom, and he shook Murray’s hand.
In another recent sentencing, a jury in Mills County sentenced Lowell Bobby Watson, 56, to 50 years in prison for aggravated sexual assault of a a child, Murray said in a press release.
Watson pleaded guilty to three counts and chose to have a jury assess his punishment.
Murray said he presented evidence that Watson had sexually assaulted a relative beginning when she was about 9 years old and continuing until she was 15.
In May 2008, Mills County Chief Deputy Clint Hammonds responded to a call of a man threatening suicide, testimony showed. Jurors heard a conversation of a recorded conversation Hammonds had with Watson in which Watson confessed to the past sexual abuse of the relative.
Another relative told jurors she, too, had been subject to sexual contact by Watson. Throughout emotional testimony, both relatives - now adults - were conflicted about what should happen to their father, Murray said.
Murray asked the jury to consider a sentencing range of 40 years to life in prison, telling jurors the victims will live with the events for the rest of their lives and that there are few crimes more egregious than Watson’s. The defense requested probation, pointing out Watson’s age, lack of a criminal record and the fact that the offense occurred more than 10 years ago.
In other recent sentencings:
Jackie James Swindall Jr. pleaded guilty to engaging in organized criminal activity and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Swindall pleaded guilty to three offenses of theft over $1,500 under $20,000 and one engaging in organized criminal activity— forgery case and was sentenced to two years in prison in each case.
William Emmette Chandler pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and endangering a child and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in each case.
Richard Byron Ivey Jr. pleaded guilty to engaging in organized criminal activity and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.