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March 13, 2018

17 pounds of marijuana nets two-year prison sentence

Photo/Fauquier Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff’s deputies seized this marijuana from Grady Morris’ home on Beach Road southeast of Warrenton last summer.
Grady Morris, 35, said he bought the marijuana from “Mad Max.”
Morris Marijuana Case
• Charge: Possession with intent to distribute 17.2 pounds of marijuana in July 2017.

• Defendant: Grady W. Morris, 35, near Warrenton.

• Conviction: Mr. Morris Tuesday, Jan. 9, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute 17.2 pounds of marijuana. The felony count carries a minimum penalty of five years to up to 30 years in prison.

• Sentence: Seven years, with five suspended; imposed by the judge Wednesday, Feb. 21.

• Defense attorney: T. Huntley Thorpe of Warrenton.

• Prosecutor: Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Antonio R. Benedi.

• Judge: Herman A. Whisenant Jr.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The Fauquier landscaper planned to sell 17 pounds of marijuana.

Theoretically, that would have supplied 7,830 Fauquier residents a gram each of the illegal drug, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Antonio R. Benedi told a Fauquier County Circuit Court judge Tuesday morning.

In January, Grady W. Morris, 35, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of possession with intent to distribute 17.2 pounds of “pot.”

After Tuesday’s brief hearing, Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. sentenced Mr. Morris to seven years in prison, with five years suspended. Mr. Morris immediately started his two-year term.

Though perhaps not as destructive as heroin, “it’s still illegal,” Mr. Benedi said of marijuana.

The amount Mr. Morris planned to sell could have had widespread implications for Fauquier, Mr. Benedi told the judge.

“This is a lot of marijuana,” the prosecutor said.

Mr. Benedi argued for a sentence consistent with the high end of state guidelines, which suggested a sentence of one year to two years and four months in prison.

Warrenton defense attorney T. Huntley Thorpe asked for a sentence closer to one year so that his client more quickly could resume life as a “productive member of society.”

Mr. Morris’ criminal record includes a 2004 conviction for possession with the intent to distribute marijuana.

For that offense, he received five years in prison with all but five days suspended, according to the prosecutor, who called it “an extremely light sentence.”

Mr. Morris’ estranged wife last July 18 called the sheriff’s office to report that she found about a half-ounce of marijuana in the couple’s home at 6732 Beach Road, just southeast of Warrenton.

Deputies twice that visited the home — first to confiscate the half-ounce of marijuana and a second time to remove Mr. Morris’ dogs at his wife’s request.

During the second visit, Mr. Morris’ wife told the deputy “she had found a duffle bag containing a large amount of marijuana,” according to the prosecution.

Found in Mr. Morris’ bedroom closet, the duffle bag had at least a dozen, knotted plastic bags of marijuana.

Mr. Morris told investigators that he bought the marijuana for $33,000 from a man known as “Mad Max.”

Depending on the market, marijuana can sell for up to $300 an ounce, according to law enforcement officials.

At the high end, 17 pounds would bring $81,600 on the street.

Mr. Morris clearly failed to learn a lesson after his 2004 conviction, Judge Whisenant said moments before pronouncing the sentence.

If he violations the terms of probation after his release from prison, Mr. Morris would face serving the suspended, five-year portion of the sentence.

“If you didn’t like two years” in prison, “you’re sure not going to like five” more, Judge Whisenant warned.

The judge “really took into consideration the amount of marijuana” involved, Mr. Benedi said after the hearing. “He was fair to the defendant, fair to the commonwealth and I think he was fair to us.”

Mr. Thorpe, who represented Mr. Morris, declined to comment after the hearing.
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