‘Drug dealer’ sentenced to 10-30 years for heroin death.

December 6, 2016
Jacob Walton with a Michigan Department of Corrections officer and his attorney, Al Swanson, Jr.

Jacob Walton with a Michigan Department of Corrections officer and his attorney, Al Swanson, Jr.

‘Drug dealer’ sentenced to 10-30 years for heroin death.

#MasonCountyNews #CourtNews

By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

LUDINGTON — A 25-year-old Muskegon man currently lodged in prison on drug convictions received a 10-30 prison term Tuesday, Dec. 6, in 51st Circuit Court for a conviction of heroin delivery causing death.

Jacob James Walton, 25, of Muskegon, “has been involved in the drug trade for at least 10 years,” said Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola. “Put very simply, it appears that our defendant is a drug dealer.”

Judge Susan K. Sniegowski did not follow the plea agreement in Walton’s case, which was eight to 30 years in prison, and gave him a stiffer sentence of 10-30 years.

“We are seeing this more and more often,” Sniegowski said. “I am rejecting the plea agreement. It’s just not acceptable.”

The victim in the case, 27-year-old Adam Johnson, died of a heroin overdose last January in Pere Marquette Township. His parents appeared in court Tuesday, obviously distraught, with his mother crying during the emotional proceeding. Spaniola said the Johnsons are caring for their son’s young children now through a legal guardianship. They approved of the plea agreement, the prosecutor said, so that they can “move forward” with their lives.

Their son’s death has caused them psychological trauma, Spaniola said. It has also caused Johnson’s children to endure psychological pain. “Heroin killed their son,” he said.

“This is his ninth felony conviction,” said Spaniola, citing Walton’s “lengthy criminal history dating back to his juvenile days.”

Walton is currently serving four prison terms at the West Shoreline Correctional Facility in Muskegon Heights on drug convictions involving cocaine and analogues, with the longest maximum sentence of eight years. His Mason County sentence runs concurrently to those prison terms.

“There are no words for a broken, aching heart,” stated Johnson’s mother in a letter that Spaniola read aloud. “To us, you are no better than a pedophile… You have ruined so many other lives in the process… Not only have you taken Adam from us, but you have taken yourself away from your loved ones as well.” The letter stated that Walton made the choice to sell drugs, which ultimately led to their son’s untimely death.

“I’m sorry for what happened, but addiction is a choice, too” Walton said. The Johnsons “suffer for something that me and their son did,” he said.

“Unfortunately this is a bad situation,” said Johnson’s attorney, Al Swanson, Jr. “Young kids lives are torn apart and destroyed, and the family’s lives are torn apart and destroyed, as well. “The Johnsons will struggle with this for an innumerable amount of years.”

The maximum sentence for heroin delivery causing death is life in prison.

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