In Putnam County Circuit Court Thursday, a Greencastle man was sentenced to six years for dealing in cocaine.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, the charge against Michael Smoot, 45, was downgraded from a Class A to a Class C felony. He could have received a maximum of eight years.
Judge Matt Headley ordered that Smoot would spend three years of his sentence at the Indiana Department of Corrections, one year on community corrections and two years on probation. He will receive credit for the 175 days he has spent in the Putnam County Jail.
After a confidential informant purchased nine bags of cocaine from Smoot at Smoot's home on March 22, 2008, members of the Greencastle ERT Team descended to conduct a search. But by the time they got there, Smoot had disappeared.
A warrant for Smoot's arrest was issued on March 27, 2008. He managed to avoid capture for more than six months, and was arrested in early October.
Smoot said on March 22, 2008 he received a phone call alerting him that police were surrounding his house. He admitted he took his wife and toddler daughter and fled to Indianapolis.
The state asked for a four-year sentence for Smoot with a two-year enhancement for aggravating circumstances. They asked that three be executed at the Department of Corrections and three be spent on probation.
Smoot's court-appointed attorney, James Recker, asked for house arrest for his client. Putnam County Probation officer Teresa Parrish objected to the request.
"My problem is this dealing in cocaine was done out of his home," she said. "You're on a bracelet (with house arrest), but the dealing part could still continue."
Smoot's wife, Guinevere, and his 3-year-old daughter were both present at his sentencing. Smoot, who has worked as a property manager and sign painter, said his family had experienced great hardship since his arrest.
"They're not getting along well," he said in court Thursday. "My wife lost the house in Indianapolis and has had to move back to Putnam County."
Smoot said he fled Putnam County after he knew police were looking for him "to make sure my family was prepared and taken care of until such time as I could turn myself in."
"I didn't think I would be charged," Smoot said. "I was scared. I didn't know what was going on."
On the stand Thursday, Smoot's wife said she and her daughter were living with relatives in Cloverdale. She does not have a job, she said, but is looking for work.
She said she was not aware that her husband was dealing drugs.
Smoot never turned himself in. He ended up being arrested during a traffic stop.
Jeff Pace, a sign painter from Cloverdale, took the stand in support of Smoot. He said Smoot could work for him and that Smoot, his wife and daughter could all live at his house if Smoot were to be sentenced to house arrest.
The state asked for an eight-year sentence with five years executed for Smoot.
Smoot addressed the court before his sentence was handed down.
"I am not a career criminal," he said. "But the blame for this falls solely on my shoulders."
Smoot said he had spent his time in jail "wisely," taking classes in math and English, getting baptized and attending Bible study courses.
"I can do something I've never done before ... I can do algebra," he said. "An old dog can learn new tricks."
Smoot requested that he be given three years on home detention and three years on probation. He asked Headley to assign him to community service so he could "pay back some of what I owe this county."
Smoot also requested drug rehab.
"My goal is to emerge a better citizen, husband and father," he said. "I want to continue the rehab I started in jail."
Headley was not swayed by Smoot's words.
"You hid out in Marion County," he said. "You're here because you got stopped. If that hadn't happened, you might still be there."