A Pardon for David and Natalie DePriest (Sentenced to 22 years & 15 years for Marijuana!)

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On August 25, 2011, my brother David DePriest and myself were arrested after a warrantless search and seizure of the townhouse that we leased (Later, the judge ruled the search to be acceptable due to a possible "imminent threat"). A maintenance man had entered the property without notice to change a fire extinguisher, and discovered 12 marijuana plants and about a pound of marijuana in a bedroom closet. He called the police and allowed them into the property.  We were not home.

My brother and I are both college educated and hard working people. Neither of us had ever been in trouble in our lives. We had never harmed anyone or sold marijuana to anyone. However, because of the amount of marijuana found, we were charged with 2 class B felonies of Possession with Intent to Distribute & Manufacturing a Controlled Substance. There was also a third charge of Possession of an Illegal Weapon. (My brother is former military, and a Licensed/Certified Gunsmith). They claimed he had a rifle with a barrel that was 1/4" too short. I have never touched a gun in my life.

After fighting the charges for two years, we made the terrible decision of pleading guilty. It's hard to describe what you go through in a situation like this. But, the state has a lot of power and you feel backed into a corner. We decided to plead guilty and request probation, since we were first time non-violent offenders.

That is not what happened. My brother received a sentence of 22 years. I received a sentence of 15 years.

After 4 years in prison, I was released on parole on Friday, May 19, 2017.

My brother is still behind bars. He is scheduled for release in fall of 2018.

All of this for a plant.

Since pleading guilty and being incarcerated, both of us filed a Form 40 appeal for post-conviction relief based on ineffective assistance of counsel. In 2015, the Eastern District Court of Appeals unanimously vacated our guilty pleas and sentences, and ordered the St. Francois County court to either re-negotiate a plea deal or allow us to take our cases to trial. The prosecution appealed that decision to the Missouri Supreme Court. In 2017, the Missouri Supreme Court sent our cases back to St. Francois County for an evidentiary hearing in the case. In other words, we are looking at years and years of more court appearances. At any time, the prosecutor could avoid this court battle and re-negotiate a plea deal with lower sentences.  At this time, he refuses to do so . Therefore, my brother remains in a Missouri Prison and I remain on parole.

We are asking that Governor Eric Greitens grant us each a pardon, so my brother can be released from prison and we can both go back to our lives and return to being productive members of society.

Missouri has an extremely high prison population. The majority are non-violent drug offenders. We believe no one should be in prison for a plant. It is time to end prohibition.

It is important to note, that over half of the states have legalized medical marijuana, and 8 states have legalized recreational marijuana. We believe the sentences we received were too harsh.

Please sign this petition, so we can ask Governor Greitens for a pardon, and my brother can come home.

 

 



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