Court assesses score before dealer sentenced

Convicted methamphetamine dealer Mark Crow’s court-mandated respite in Island County Jail will continue until the exact status of his criminal history can be determined.

Crow, 44, was recently found guilty of possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver. His Monday sentencing was continued until convictions he racked up in Snohomish County could be further scrutinized.

His current “offender score” of 8 yields a standard sentencing range of 60 to 120 months. The sentence ultimately imposed will include an additional, non-concurrent 24-month, “school zone” enhancement.

The defendant, through his lawyer Charles Hamilton, objected to the criminal history as alleged by the state. Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock, citing a case in which the defendant was successful in appealing his conviction because of insufficient clarity with the criminal history, recommended firming up details of the Snohomish County charges. Crow was convicted in the other county of multiple counts of forgery and identity theft.

Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme said the issue lies with “same criminal conduct,” a state law that requires offenses encompassing the same criminal conduct to be counted as one offense, for purposes of calculating an offender score. A person’s offender score determines the sentencing range a judge must adhere to when imposing the punitive measure on a defendant.

In Crow’s case, his score could ultimately be in question depending on the exact nature of the Snohomish County crimes. Ohme explained that even though Crow was convicted of identity theft and forgery in the other county, if the court determines the crimes constitute the same criminal conduct, multiple convictions can be counted only as one conviction. The deputy prosecutor provided the court with certified copies of the court’s judgments in Crow’s past convictions, but Hancock opted to review the guilty plea statements or affidavits from law enforcement before rendering his decision.

Hamilton argued that the criminal history previously accepted overstated the offender score. Hancock said without revisiting the specific convictions, the defendant could later collaterally attack the judgment and possibly stage a successful appeal of his sentence.

“The better part of valor, as it were, would be to continue sentencing,” Hancock said of the accepted delay.

Crow was arrested in October after Island County Sheriff’s deputies recovered more than 19 grams of meth in a “ramshackle”

motorhome in Greenbank, Ohme said. The drugs were accompanied by a plethora of paraphernalia and more than $3,000 in cash.

Crow’s arrest was the culmination of an extensive drug sting that also netted 64-year-old Edison Walters in Oak Harbor on the same night. Walters was sentenced Christmas Eve to 74 months in prison after pleading guilty to the same charge as Crow in addition to a charge of possession of a sawed-off firearm.

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