Woodward, Okla. —
A former Woodward Police detective pled no contest to felony drug charges during a court appearance Tuesday.
Mike Morton pled to an amended information which charged him 2 felony counts of theft of methamphetamine, one count of conspiracy to commit theft of methamphetamine, and one count of distribution of methamphetamine.
Morton was originally charged in Feb. 2012 with 13 felony counts, including additional conspiracy, theft and distribution charges.
However, as part of a plea deal, he pled to only 4 charges, not contesting allegations that between May 1, 2009 and March 27, 2010 he took methamphetamine from the Woodward Police Department evidence room to give to his then wife Christine England-Morton.
In exchange for his plea, Morton was sentenced to 10 years in Department of Corrections custody, with all but the first 12 months suspended for each count. However, the sentences will run concurrently with each other.
His one year incarceration will be served in the county jail. He must also pay additional fines, fees and court costs on each count.
District Attorney Mike Boring, from District 1 in Texas County, was the prosecutor in the case since the prosecutors from the local District Attorney's Office previously had a working relationship with Morton when he was a police detective.
Boring told The News he was pleased with how the case ended.
"I'm glad that we were able to reach what I feel was a reasonable resolution in this case," he said. "I felt this case required a conviction on felony counts and I feel the sentence imposed was fair and reasonable for everybody concerned."
Morton was not immediately taken into custody to serve his 12-month sentence. As per the plea bargain, he has until May 1 to turn himself into the Woodward County Sheriff's Office to begin his jail term.
Boring said it is "not uncommon" for some defendants to be given time to get their affairs in order before having to begin an incarceration sentence.
"When it's someone who's been out on bond and it's their first offense and we're not concerned about flight or any risk like that, to give them time to get everything in order, we don't object generally in those type of situations," he said.
The DA said that Morton's cooperation in the case also played a role in the agreement to give him a month before reporting to jail.
"When they come in and waive their preliminary hearing and delay before arraignment and being put on a trial docket, which can tend to string cases along for months, when they go in and do a plea and wrap things up like that, then we're much more inclined to work with them," Boring said.
While the plea agreement outlines that Morton is designated to serve his 12 months incarceration at the Woodward County Jail, Boring said it will actually be up to Sheriff Gary Stanley whether the former detective will remain in the local facility.
"It's up to the sheriff whether to maintain him here or move him elsewhere for security reasons. But with the jail facilities Woodward now has, I anticipate he will stay here. I think the sheriff will be able to make reasonable provisions for his safety here," Boring said.