Convicted drug dealer sentenced again

Published 9:04 am Saturday, February 17, 2007

By Staff
Sentenced to at least eight years in prison
A repeat drug dealer from Washington was convicted again Thursday, his fourth felony drug conviction, in Beaufort County Superior Court and was sentenced to eight to 11 years in prison. Investigators and prosecutors consider the sentence a victory.
Michael Vernon Mizelle, 30, of 228 Baker Drive, Washington, was convicted of two counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana near a playground and two counts of selling marijuana near a playground, according to a press release.
Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Jones prosecuted the case. He said Mizelle “wasn’t contesting that he sold marijuana,” but argued that he wasn’t within 300 feet of a playground. The distance to the public playground was measured at 117 feet by investigators, Jones said.
The drug transactions occurred on July 2 and July 17, 2004 near the housing authority on the corner of Ninth and Gladden streets. On both dates, Mizelle sold marijuana to a cooperating witness and police captured the transactions on videotape, Kuhn said.
Kuhn said the purpose of the charge is “to protect the children that are in and around playgrounds on a daily basis.”
The trial began Wednesday afternoon and finished Thursday morning, he said. The jury had a guilty verdict later that afternoon.
Judge W. Russell Duke sentenced Mizelle to two consecutive sentences of 46 to 65 months in prison, or a minimum term of 8 years and a maximum of 11 years, according to a press release.
Jones said selling drugs within 300 feet of the playground carries a more severe penalty. He said the same applies for property used as a school. “It more than doubled his sentence,” Jones said.
Mizelle’s criminal background, which Kuhn called extensive, resulted in a more severe punishment as well.
Mizelle had prior convictions of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, speeding to elude arrest, assault on a female and interfering with emergency communications, according to press release. He has two other felony drug charges and a charge for stabbing a man, all of which are still pending.
A man was stabbed several times on Oct. 11 near Fourth and Pierce streets in Washington. The man was left lying on the front steps of a residence, suffering from several stab wounds, Kuhn said.
When questioned about Mizelle’s future charges, Jones said, “We will make a decision later. It depends on how strong those cases are and what he’s willing to do.” He said, “If he gets any more felony charges, he would be a habitual felon.”