• Last modified 548 days ago (Nov. 23, 2022)


Prosecutor deals away drug cases

Prison avoided by reducing child endangerment, drug distribution charges

Staff writer

Criminal charges of endangering a child and aggravated endangering a child filed against separate defendants were plea-bargained away this month by Marion County Attorney Joel Ensey.

In one case, an aggravated endangerment charge was reduced to simple endangerment, which reduced the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Ephraim Palacio, 29, Wichita, pleaded no contest Nov. 8 to possession of methamphetamine and endangering a child.

Charges of distribution of methamphetamine, possession of THC, and possession of drug paraphernalia were dismissed in return for Palacio’s plea.

Ensey said Palacio probably would have been sentenced to between 92 and 144 months in prison if he had been convicted of distribution of methamphetamine.

Instead, sentencing guidelines suggest probation for possession.

The amount of methamphetamine that he had on him was a little over four grams, Ensey said.

Four grams, enough for 160 medicinal doses of the drug, exceeds the amount required for the charge to be distribution instead of possession.

Ensey said the child in Palacio’s car was 17. That factored into his agreement to reduce a charge of aggravated endangerment to simple endangerment.

Both would likely result in probation.

In the other reduction of charges, William R. Shearer, 40, Florence, had been charged in two separate cases. Possession of drug paraphernalia and driving while his license was suspended were filed in one case and possession of methamphetamine, endangering a child, transportation of an open container of liquor, and driving while his license was suspended were filed in a separate case.

He pleaded no contest Nov. 3 to possession of drug paraphernalia and driving while his license was suspended. Both charges are misdemeanors, expected to result in probation.

The entire second case, including endangering a child, was dismissed.

Ensey said Shearer was found with methamphetamine residue in a pipe and a child in his car.

Endangering a child could be charged as a misdemeanor or a low-level felony, depending on the circumstances, Ensey said. Both would likely result in probation, though probation might range up to 18 months for the felony.

Shearer is expected to get standard probation — not community corrections, which is more intensive, Ensey said.

Ensey files charges he thinks he has reasonable basis to charge: in other words, charges that would stand up in court, he said.

“The end goal is rehabilitation,” he said.

When negotiating a plea bargain, he considers what a felony conviction could mean for the person, he said. A felony conviction might make it hard to get a job if the person stays in the community.

During negotiations, he considers a defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the felony charge.

Shearer was convicted in 2001 on drug charges in Lyon County, of failure to submit to a breath test and reckless driving in 2003 in Marion County, and driving while his license was suspended in Butler County in 2022.

Both Shearer and Palacio are expected to be sentenced to probation and ordered to undergo drug evaluation and treatment.

Last modified Nov. 23, 2022