Judge rules Wilson will stay in jail

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Former Brewton Middle School teacher and T.R. Miller coach Daniel Wilson was facing a potential sentence of nearly 40 years when he took a sentencing deal in March, pleading guilty to distribution of a controlled substance.

Circuit Judge Bert Rice ruled Tuesday that Wilson will stay in jail, denying Wilson’s motion for reconsideration of his sentence.

“At this time I’m going to deny the motion,” Rice said. “We want to see people successful. Sometimes it’s a row to hoe. At this point, the court is pleased with what I have seen, but I want to see more. I want no disciplinaries. I want to see that you can be a leader. There are times when people can rise to a level, and I encourage you to continue to do well.”

Wilson was indicted in 2009 with charges of distribution of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. The plea deal he took allowed a split sentence, two years incarceration and three years on supervised probation.

Wilson is serving his sentence at the Loxley Work Center in Baldwin County. Rice noted that Wilson was lucky to serve so close to home, since some defendants are sent as far away as north Alabama in similar situations.

In court Tuesday, defense attorney Everette Price added two letters to the record in support of Wilson’s early release. When the motion was initially filed July 22, it included letters from First Baptist Church Pastor Jack Fitts; Brewton City Schools Superintendent Lynn Smith; T.R. Miller football coach Jamie Riggs; and Wilson’s wife, Alyssa.

The motion also included certificates from Wilson’s completion of a pre-release course and an eight-week substance abuse program.

Price said he was surprised to read a story about the motion in Saturday’s edition of The Brewton Standard.

“This is a rather (standard operating procedure) motion,” Price said.

Price said he did not ask anyone to submit the letters for Wilson’s record. “I don’t know who would write about someone unless they knew him,” he said.

In court Tuesday, Price submitted two more letters for Wilson’s file, one from Victor Hunt and one from David Shipp.

Price said he hoped the letters gave Rice “some understanding of the sincerity” of Wilson’s support and his effort to change.

District Attorney Steve Billy said he does not believe the letters tell the full story about Wilson.

“The people who wrote those letters don’t know Mr. Wilson as well as they think they do,” Billy said.

Wilson had already received a “very good plea deal,” Billy said, considering the potential sentence he was facing based on the charges and enhancements that would be added to sentencing because of the crime’s proximity to schools and housing projects.

“Mr. Wilson is a dealer,” Billy said. “It was common knowledge at the school. I’ve talked to (football) players who knew that he was dealing.”

Those allegations led to the investigation, Billy said.

Billy also said that Brewton Police Chief Monte McGougin had already given Wilson a second chance by letting school officials know what they suspected of Wilson, who was a Brewton Middle School physical education teacher and an offensive line coach for T.R. Miller High School.

“The police chief went up to the school and told them,” Billy told Rice. “They did nothing about it. That’s what set up this investigation.”

When Wilson was arrested, police said they had set up a sting operation at a local motel and that he sold marijuana to an undercover officer. The exchange was caught on videotape, police have said.

In court Tuesday, Billy said another teacher helped set up the operation. “A fellow educator saw fit to come to the police,” Billy said. “She (told Wilson she) had a brother who was coming down to buy drugs. We had an undercover agent pose as her brother.”

Billy said he believed teachers should be held to a higher standard. “They’re parents for eight hours of the day,” he said.

Price pointed out that the statute allowing Wilson to seek reconsideration of his sentence does not say, “this does not include a schoolteacher.”

“I don’t want him to be persecuted because he chose to teach school,” Price said.

Letters in the file on Wilson’s behalf can be found here:

Jack Fitts

Jamie Riggs

Lynn Smith