Judge passes on Willie’s token plea deal
By STERRY BUTCHER
SIERRA BLANCA – Willie Nelson’s second plea deal on a Hudspeth County pot charge has gone up in smoke.
Nelson was busted at the Sierra Blanca checkpoint last November for possessing a little more than six ounces of pot on his tour bus, potentially a state jail felony punishable up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine if convicted. Prosecutor Kit Bramblett originally offered a plea deal in which Nelson would pay a fine and sing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” in the Hudspeth County courtroom. The amount of pot had subsequently dropped to less than four ounces, a Class B misdemeanor, which meant the case stayed within Bramblett’s jurisdiction.
“You bet your ass I ain’t gonna be mean to Willie Nelson,” Bramblett told the Sentinel at the time.
County Judge Becky Dean Walker nixed the deal, however, protesting that Nelson should be treated like anyone else.
Then CNN reported earlier this month that Bramblett and Nelson’s attorney had agreed to a reduced charge of possession of marijuana paraphernalia, a Class C misdemeanor, and a $500 fine, plus court fees.
Not so fast.
On June 20, Walker talked with Hudspeth County Herald editor Drew Stuart. Walker, he wrote, refused the new plea deal out of concern that Bramblett’s reduction of the charge from possession to paraphernalia represented preferential treatment for the singer.
“My problem is the fact that everybody should be treated the same,” Walker said in the Herald. “If that was the guy on the corner, you can damn sure bet he would be charged with a felony. I don’t have anything against Willie Nelson; I just think that it’s not fair.”
Bramblett countered by telling the Herald that it’s his prerogative to file charges as he sees fit.
The case is pending, as of June 24.
“It will lay there ‘til it gets dismissed,” the attorney said, “or she has a change of heart.”
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