Encouragement leads to success for one local law breaker

TAYLOR COUNTY—One individual received her final sentence in Taylor County Circuit Court last week, after proving that, sometimes, support from people is all you need to change your life around.

Kaitlin Michelle Burton, 20, entered a guilty plea to possession with the intent to deliver Methamphetamine in June 2017, after being indicted on the charges during the 2017 April Grand Jury term.

She was sentenced to one-to-five years in the Anthony Correctional Center for Youthful Offenders, to complete their drug rehabilitation program.

“I had previously told you that if you were able to successfully complete that program, then I would place you on probation,” reminded Judge Alan D. Moats. “Here you sit today, to report that you have, in fact, successfully completed it.”

Burton shared with the court that the program has helped change her life.

“I am asking that I be placed on probation. I already have a job and hope to pursue welding,” said Burton.

She told the judge that she began welding while at the center, really enjoyed it, and would like the opportunity to pursue a career in the field.

Moats was also happy to report that upon his wishes, Burton had worked to obtain her GED while going through the program.

“At first, I didn’t really want to get my GED, but you pushed me to do it, and I just want to say thank you so much,” Burton expressed to Moats.

Moats voiced that he was very proud of the steps that the defendant had taken to begin to turn her life around.

“I am very proud of her,” he said to her council Jason Wingfield. “I’m sure that you should be proud of her, too.”

Wingfield acknowledged the work that Burton had put into curbing her drug addiction and putting herself back on the right track in life.

“We are asking that she be able to continue to pursue her recovery through probation,” he noted.

Moats ordered that his original sentence would stand, and that because she had successfully completed the drug treatment program, he would allow her to suspend her sentence and be placed on probation for a period of three years.

“Part of the agreement is that you are ordered to report daily for drug testing, so that I can ensure you continue on the right path,” Moats added.

“I would just like to thank you again,” Burton expressed. “I don’t want to go back to how I was. I want to have a sober life.”

Additionally, Moats sentenced 48-year-old John Stacy Clelland after he entered a guilty plea to wanton endangerment involving a firearm, which carries a possible sentence of up to five years in the penitentiary, served as a definite term, and a possible fine of $250-$2,500.

As part of the negotiated plea agreement, there would be a possibility for the defendant to serve an alternative sentence for the crime.

Clelland admitted in court that he had pointed a gun at his victim, who was riding a 4-wheeler on the road near the defendant’s home, during the evening hours on the night in question.

When asked why he did it, Clelland reported he was distressed because his neighbor had just passed away, and many people had been coming and dumping trash and stuff on their property.

“They were on their 4-wheelers and had stopped. I was asking what they were doing,” he told the judge. “I regret, very much, what I did. I should have just called the police.”

According to one of the victims in the case, Clelland held them at gunpoint for approximately five minutes, while they were stopped allowing the engine of their racing four-wheeler to cool down.

“He is just shoving blame off on everyone else,” the victim commented. “He hasn’t learned anything from it all.”

Moats ordered that Clelland would serve a five-year sentence on home confinement. He added that after one year served without any incident, he would consider allowing Clelland to serve the remainder of his term on the Taylor County Community Corrections program.