Woman pleads guilty to drug charges, faces sentencing today
A Merrimack Superior Court jury found Jamie Locke guilty of of being an accomplice to attempted murder, one of four charges on which she was tried, Monday, June 27, 2011. Locke and three men were suspects in a 2009 attack on Jonathan Evans at a homeless camp near Everett Arena in Concord. (Alexander Cohn/ Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »
Jamie Locke, convicted of beating a homeless teenager and throwing him into the Merrimack River in 2009, pleaded guilty yesterday to selling heroin while out on bail. Locke will be sentenced today on both the drug and assault charges, the latest in a convoluted case in which the state first convicted her of a crime that doesn’t exist.
Locke, 36, was arrested in November 2009 after the police said she and two others beat then-19-year-old Jonathan Evans at the homeless camp behind the Everett Arena and threw him, bruised and unconscious, into the river. Locke, who was homeless at the time, said she was angry with Evans for stealing her friend’s boots, but she denied dumping him in the river.
Locke was tried in June 2011, and while a jury acquitted her of first-degree assault, she was found guilty of serving as an accomplice to attempted murder. But Judge Larry Smukler later threw out that verdict, saying the crime doesn’t exist in New Hampshire.
According to Assistant County Attorney Wayne Coull, Locke was also found guilty at that trial of conspiracy to commit murder, a charge that could have landed her a sentence ranging from 20 years to life in prison.
But the jury’s foreman mistakenly read the verdict as not guilty, Coull said.
Coull asked for a mistrial, saying in court documents that the judge had discovered the mistake when meeting with jurors but dismissed the group before he notified the attorneys.
Smukler, in an order that did not confirm Coull’s version of events, denied the request for a mistrial, saying prosecutors had a chance to individually poll the jurors for their verdicts and didn’t.
That left Locke without any convictions.
So prosecutors charged her with a new crime of second-degree assault, a crime that requires the state to prove Locke showed an “extreme indifference to human life.” First-degree assault, which Locke had been acquitted of, requires proof that she used a deadly weapon – in this case the water of the Merrimack River – when assaulting Evans.
Locke’s lawyers called the move double jeopardy.
But Smukler allowed for a new trial, which took place in November and resulted in a jury finding Locke guilty of second-degree assault.
On that charge, Locke faces 31∕2 to 7 years in prison. Each of the three drug charges she pleaded guilty to yesterday also carries the same sentence. Locke additionally pleaded guilty yesterday to bail jumping after missing a court hearing on the drug charges.
Coull said yesterday that Locke sold drugs to an undercover officer three times in March while out on bail between her two trials.
Coull said the officer was attempting to buy drugs from another individual when Locke “without any prompting, really, injected herself into that conversation,” saying she could get him a better deal. Locke later sold what she believed to be heroin to the officer but quickly called the man back to say she had been given bad drugs, Coull said.
“She did tell the undercover officer that she would, ‘make it good’ to him. The next transaction was the . . . day after, when the defendant was in contact again with the undercover officer. This time she sold him what was in fact real heroin,” Coull said, adding that Locke sold the officer drugs one more time.
Smukler yesterday asked Locke if she was pleading guilty to those charges because she did, in fact, commit the crimes.
“Because I am guilty, yes,” she said.
Joseph Hearn, a friend of Locke’s, asked Smukler yesterday for “leniency and mercy” when giving his sentence.
He said Locke missed her hearing on the drug charges because she had checked herself into a rehab facility that day. And he described Locke as a committed mother of four who fell into financial ruin after her divorce, became homeless and lost custody of her kids when she could no longer care for them.
“From her depression and feelings of hopelessness, she fell into a life of drugs, alcohol and eventually petty crime and into the charges which she is here to answer for today,” he said.
He called her a “loving, kind-hearted young woman.”
Locke’s stepfather also spoke at yesterday’s hearing. A teenage girl was prepared to speak but became emotional, burying her face in her hands. Locke turned to her, mouthed the words “You don’t have to,” then turned back to the judge and grabbed a tissue.
Smukler agreed yesterday that the girl could submit a written statement that he would read before sentencing Locke.