BY LEANN DILBECK
A local habitual offender will now find himself serving a significant prison term after a Polk County jury made a bold statement with
their conviction and sentencing of Michael “Lubby” Thomas, age 27 of Mena. The Polk County jury rendered their verdict of guilty for Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, both Class “D” Felonies in Polk County District Court, March 27. Thomas’ convictions stemmed from his October 16, 2013 arrest.
“Given Thomas’ lengthy record of criminal offenses, I think that the Jury’s verdict is best understood as a message to habitual offenders rather than a message about illicit drugs,” said Prosecuting Attorney Andy Riner. “This case does illustrate, however, that illicit drugs, especially methamphetamine, and repeated criminal acts are often interrelated.”
Sgt. Eudell Head testified that at around 5:00 a.m. on October 16, 2013, he and officer Daniel Sanchez, both of the Mena Police Department, received a stolen vehicle complaint. The complaining party indicated that Thomas had taken his vehicle to a camper on West Boundary Road. Knowing that Thomas had an outstanding arrest warrant, Head and Sanchez went to the camper and served the arrest warrant on Thomas. In a search incident to Thomas’ arrest, Head and Sanchez found a Newport cigarette package containing a small amount of methamphetamine and a snort tube used to ingest methamphetamine in the left front pocket of Thomas’ hoodie.
After deliberating for just over 15 minutes before ultimately finding Thomas guilty, the Jury then heard evidence relevant to sentencing. Among other things, jurors heard from Thomas’ parole officer, Frank Gibson, who testified that Thomas had been a parolee under his supervision and had performed poorly while on parole. Jurors also learned that Thomas has been no stranger to the criminal justice system and was classified as an habitual offender. His lengthy criminal history included felony convictions for Aggravated Assault, two convictions for Domestic Battery in the Third Degree, Terroristic Threatening, Theft of Property, and both Residential and Commercial Burglary. In addition to these felony convictions, Thomas had over 20 misdemeanor convictions.
After deliberating on evidence relevant to sentencing for approximately 45 minutes, the Jury recommended sentences of 15 years and 10 years and recommended that these sentences be served consecutively. The jury could have sentenced Thomas to up to 15 years on each count. Thomas will be eligible for parole in fifty months.