Wilson seeks early release

Published 3:00 am Saturday, July 31, 2010

Daniel Wilson, a former Brewton Middle School teacher convicted in March of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance after reaching a plea deal on the charge, is seeking a hearing to re-evaluate his sentence.

Wilson is serving two years in prison but was also sentenced to three years of supervised probation upon his release.

Wilson’s motion includes letters of support from T.R. Miller football coach Jamie Riggs; Brewton City Schools Superintendent Lynn Smith; First Baptist Church pastor Jack Fitts; and Wilson’s wife, Alyssa.

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“Daniel Wilson has been one who obviously paid a high price for his action,” Fitts wrote in a letter filed with the motion. “He has experienced his just due in his life, his family and our community. I have been grateful for his sincere repentance and efforts to rectify his wrong. … I trust that you and others concerned will recognize these positive signs as motivation for reconsideration of his sentence.”

Wilson’s motion also includes a certificate from his completion of an eight-week drug rehabilitation program, which he attended while incarcerated at the Loxley Community Work Center.

District Attorney Steve Billy’s office has not yet filed a response to the motion, but Billy said Friday he did not believe Wilson’s release was appropriate.

“The average citizen would find it hard to believe that four months could change a course of conduct which Wilson continued for many years,” Billy said. “Substance abuse classes benefit addicts not dealers like Wilson. Thousands of dollars are spent combating drugs on our streets and implementing programs in our schools such as D.A.R.E. I find it quite ironic and disheartening that our school and community leaders are now writing letters in support of a drug dealer who dealt drugs while on the payroll of our school system, leading teenagers down a road to destruction. By supporting his motion for early release it would seem to the general public that these leaders apparently want ‘others’ punished and not one of their own. Such a position undermines the credibility of our fight on drugs and is a position that is professionally offensive to the prosecutors and drug task force personnel.”

In his motion, defense attorney Everette Price also said Wilson has completed an institution pre-release and re-entry program.

Wilson was arrested in May 2009 after an undercover operation at a local motel. At the time, Brewton Police Chief Monte McGougin said undercover officers made a controlled buy of marijuana from Wilson, following a three-month investigation. He later pleaded guilty on the distribution charge.

In a letter filed with Wilson’s motion, Smith said he has known Wilson since he was a student in the Brewton City School System.

“Daniel Wilson slipped into the cesspool of drug use and convinced himself that he was able to control his behavior instead of drugs controlling him,” Smith wrote. “Because of his poor decisions while using an illegal drug, Daniel has lost his community respect and his job. His family is fighting so that he will not lose his house and his vehicle.”

Smith wrote that Wilson’s actions in the prison — through the substance abuse program — and before he went to jail when he continued to attend church — could warrant a second look at his sentence.

“I do not fully know the extent of Daniel Wilson’s drug lifestyle,” Smith wrote. “I do not know if Daniel encouraged others to use drugs. I do not know what the typical sentence is for Daniel’s behavior, which was definitely wrong. I do believe that Daniel wants to make amends to his community, his friends and his family. … I am hopeful that Daniel Wilson’s behavior since his arrest warrants reconsideration in his sentencing for his crime.”

In his letter of support, Riggs said Wilson’s arrest — which came when he was an offensive line coach for the T.R. Miller Tigers — “was a blight on our school and football program, but we have come out stronger and more wise.”

Riggs wrote that he believes Wilson will not allow himself to make similar mistakes in the future.

“I do believe that Daniel Wilson will spend the rest of his life making amends for his actions and that he will never be involved with such again,” Riggs wrote. “I have had many former students and players who have been involved in scrapes with the law over many things. I would be hesitant with writing a letter in support of an early release for many because of the people I know that they would hang around or the fact that I have seen their true character. But this case is different and I believe that Daniel Wilson would honor an early release with positive works and deeds.”

Smith’s and Riggs’ letters were not written on letterhead associated with the school system.

Billy said he would not want to see anyone receive “special” treatment.

“There are many drug dealers in our system, and it is the position of the (drug) task force that Wilson should be treated no differently than any of the rest,” Billy said. “In reality an educator and coach should be held to a higher standard rather than giving him an unearned reduction in sentence. By giving Wilson a break, it handicaps our ability to deal with other drug dealers when they perceive that he got ‘special’ treatment. It has been proven that there is no change in behavior without sanctions and Wilson should be made to fulfill the sentence that he agreed to serve.”