The trial of Johnathon Alfred, 25, took a turn Monday afternoon, when 13th Judicial District Judge John Larry Vidrine declared a mistrial after Alfred and a prospective juror made “inappropriate contact.” Two other cases that day ended in guilty pleas.
Alfred was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and possession with intent to distribute ecstasy.
District Attorney Trent Brignac said his office had two options at that time; to reset the matter for a later date and a different jury or reach a compromise with the defense. Brignac said since Alfred was a non-violent, first-time offender, a plea agreement was reached.
“In light of the mistrial and in an effort to efficiently manage the docket, we practiced what I call judicial economy,” Brignac said.
Alfred pled guilty and was sentenced by Vidrine to 10 years at hard labor, which was suspended. Alfred will undergo five years of active supervised probation. Brignac said if Alfred breaks the law or violates the terms of his probation in that five-year period, he will serve the full 10-year prison sentence.
Assistant District Attorney Nicole Gil said another part of Brignac’s “judicial economy” was to have several cases lined up for the day. Once the mistrial was declared, the district attorney’s office continued with two other cases using the same jury.
“We do it that way for circumstances like this,” Brignac said. “We don’t want to waste the potential jurors’ time.”
Two other defendants were brought in front of the jury and each pled guilty.
Michael James Jack, 29, pled guilty to possession of marijuana. Gil said Jack pled “straight up” and there was no recommendation from the state. A pre-sentence investigation was requested before sentencing would take place.
The final case was against Richard Kephart, 38, who was charged with possession with intent to distribute methadone. Gil said Kephart was sentenced to three years at hard labor, suspended, and placed on three years active supervised probation.