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Judge grants sentencing delay for former Decatur basketball star so he can finish degree

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DECATUR — Lewis Jackson, a former Decatur high school basketball star, was told by a judge Tuesday he could finish up his master’s degree before he is due to be sentenced to prison boot camp on drug charges.

Jackson’s pending boot camp fate was revealed in a Macon County Circuit Court hearing where Jackson pleaded for time to complete his graduate degree in technology leadership and innovation. He is due to graduate May 11 from Purdue University, and Judge Thomas Griffith agreed to put off sentencing until May 23.

Precise details of the plea agreement were not revealed in court, but Jackson has pleaded not guilty to charges of manufacture/delivery of heroin and possession of the drug. A sworn Decatur police affidavit said Jackson was arrested June 17, 2017, after a traffic stop on Interstate 72 near Decatur. Police said Jackson was transporting more than 70 grams of heroin (2.4 ounces), and he was also found with 8.4 grams of cannabis and two Xanax pills.

“We have a fully negotiated disposition, and it involves Mr. Jackson being in custody for a period of time,” defense attorney Tim Timoney, who represented Jackson along with attorney Mark Kevin Wykoff Sr. told the judge.

“We’re asking the court to accommodate this last semester of graduate school before he is taken into custody so that he doesn’t come out a statistic, basically, judge,” said Timoney, implying failing to graduate before being sentenced would harm Jackson’s future.

Jackson, a former star player at Eisenhower High School who was selected as the Herald & Review Player of the Year in 2006 and 2008, will be facing what Wykoff described as “impact incarceration.” The attorney did not specify the sentence details in open court, but typically it involves a six-month sentence served in a type of prison camp that simulates the rigors and physical discipline of a military boot camp.

Before he agreed to push back the sentencing date, Griffith asked Jackson’s attorneys if there was a chance they might seek another delay in the spring for Jackson to play basketball. This had happened in December 2017 when the judge had allowed Jackson to travel out of the country because he had the chance to play pro basketball in Germany.

Timoney said there would no such further requests, and Jackson’s focus now was on finishing his education before he loses his liberty.

Griffith set the case for a disposition hearing May 23 but also scheduled a hearing March 28 to make sure everything was still on track.

2019 mug shots from the Herald & Review

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


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