"We Support Ron Paul!" How Brother and Sister Pot Growers Got Really Long Prison Sentences
The DePriests' refusal to accept responsibility, their disregard for Missouri law, and their support for Ron Paul's beliefs on drug policy made Pratte believe that a slap on the wrist wouldn't exactly teach these criminal gardeners a lesson, so he threw the book at them.
St. Francois Prosecutor Attorney Jerrod Mahurin
The DePriests' reasoning, according to Viets, was that they really didn't have very much pot. Although Mahurin has said he believes 17 plants is indicative of a large-scale operation, the experts at The Weed Blog say that number of plants can produce as little as 1.3 ounces or as many as 5 ounces per plant, depending on the amount of light being used.
So depending on the DePriests' gardening skills, their plants could only produce between approximately 1 and 5 pounds, which isn't exactly kingpin territory. And in Colorado, where households are allowed up to 12 plants, the Depriests would have faced only 1-3 years in prison for exceeding the limit.
But this ain't Colorado. This is Missouri -- and Missouri doesn't play.
Nonetheless, there is a very small, almost miniscule chance that the DePriests still get off with probation. Under Missouri law, a sentencing judge can release a convicted prisoner on probation before 120 days. Those 120 days will be up April 1 for David and April 3 for Natalie.
"I've sent [Judge Kenneth Pratte] a letter and hundreds of signatures asking for their release," Viets says. "Pratte hasn't responded, but he got the letter."
Although it might seem like the DePriests made a huge mistake by trying to challenge the system, but there's still the question: why so many years?
"I think the judge sentenced them knowing they would be out a lot sooner than what the sentence indicates," Mahurin says. "Natalie will be out in two to three years because it's her first offense."
David might not be so lucky.
Says Mahurin: "If I had to guess, he might be out in maybe seven years."
Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:
E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.