PEARISBURG, Va. — A Monroe County man may spend up to 30 years in prison after being convicted on a drug charge in Giles County Circuit Court last week.
A jury found Melvin “Beaver” Cecil Chapman, 51, of Lindside, guilty of felony possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and recommended the 30-year sentence, said Giles County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Lilly Jr.
Lilly said the jury could have recommended 10 years to life, and the 30 years was based at least in part on Chapman’s previous felony drug convictions.
“A sentencing hearing is set for July,” he said, adding the judge makes the final decision on the sentence and judges do have some discretion, but they often impose the jury’s recommendation unless new evidence would surface before the hearing.
Lilly said Chapman, along with Chyanne Nicole Neely, 33, were arrested and charged on Oct. 22, 2018 in Rich Creek at the Budget Inn. Neely was living at the motel.
“This was part of an operation with the Rich Creek Police Department and its chief, Steve Buckland, officers from the Giles County Sheriff’s Department and the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC),” he said.
Both were arrested and charged when the Schedule II drugs were found. Neely also faces the possession of a Schedule II drug (meth) with intent to distribute charge but that case has not yet gone to trial. Both also face a separate parole violation charge.
Lilly said Chapman, who was represented by Christiansburg attorney Dennis Nagel, requested a jury trial and testified at the trial.
But the jury found him guilty.
Lilly did not advocate to the jury for a specific time in jail. He said he told the jury that since Chapman had at least two previous felony drug convictions, was on probation when he was arrested, and always returned to Giles County, that it would happen again when he was released.
“I argued the sentencing should be based on the fact he always comes back to Virginia and it’s obvious he will come back here,” he said. “That was the concern of the jury. The verdict sends a clear signal that he is not able to keep selling drugs to anyone in Giles County.”
If the 30-year sentence stands, Virginia allows only a 15 percent good behavior reduction, Lilly said, so Chapman would have to serve at least 25 and a half years behind bars, making him 76 years old on release with the reduction.
Lilly said a jury represents the “collective consciousness of the community and they needed to decide when they were comfortable having him back in their community and around their friends and neighbors.”
The sentence is reflective of the community’s sensitivity to the crime, he said.
Lilly had high praise for how everyone worked together in the case.
“I think it was a wonderful example of the success we can have combatting drug related crimes in our communities when people work together,” he said. “This was terrific teamwork among law enforcement agencies, the prosecutors and the citizens who heard the case.”
Both Chapman and Neely remain incarcerated at New River Regional Jail with no bond.
— Contact Charles Boothe at firstname.lastname@example.org