Saying he didn't understand a plea bargain that put him behind bars for the next eight years, convicted drug dealer Gordon L. Cartnail has asked a Carroll judge to reduce his sentence.
"Ever since I've been incarcerated I have learned that my freedom is more important than being behind bars," Cartnail wrote in a Nov. 3 letter to Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold filed in court yesterday.
"If I was released I would have a place to stay, find a job as soon as possible, stay out of trouble and do the right thing so I can put all my past history behind me and get on with my new life."
Cartnail, 20, was sentenced Oct. 7 to five years for manufacturing cocaine, three years for a handgun offense and 15 years for possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
The manufacturing and handgun sentences are to be served consecutively; the sentence for intent to distribute is to run concurrently with the other two.
L Judge Arnold suspended all but eight years of the sentences.
The sentences were worked out in June in exchange for guilty pleas on the three charges. Cartnail faced more than a dozen criminal charges -- including attempted murder in a December drive-by shooting in Westminster -- in the three cases against him. Had he been convicted on all of the charges, he could have been sentenced to life in prison.
And that, says Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III, is why he will vigorously oppose Cartnail's sentence-reduction request.
"He got a great deal," he said yesterday. "He's very lucky to not be serving the minimum mandatory 10-year sentence for some of these charges. He should be counting his blessings right now."
Cartnail is one of the bigger drug dealers convicted by the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force, which Mr. Walker heads. Charging documents say that Cartnail was a major supplier of cocaine in the county and that he purchased cocaine "from a Jamaican male in Baltimore."
Cartnail was arrested and charged in the drive-by shooting last December. He was one of four adults and two minors arrested in the incident, court records show.
Raids on a Westminster apartment said to be frequented by Cartnail and of his mother's home in Eldersburg turned up crack cocaine, cash, televisions, stereo equipment, phone logs and drug paraphernalia. Cartnail forfeited all of the items to the task force as a part of the plea bargain.
Cartnail and his mother were arrested after the raids and charged with several drug-distribution counts. The charges against his mother were later placed on the inactive docket.
In his letter to Judge Arnold, Cartnail said he didn't know what he was getting into when he agreed to the plea deal.
"Your honor, I didn't fully understand my trail [sic], I took the plea bargon because I didn't want to be locked up for 23 years."
OC Judge Arnold has not set a date to consider Cartnail's request.