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Published: Tuesday, 7/8/2014 - Updated: 1 year ago

Ex-Start High student found guilty of 2 felonies

Carter Carter
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A former Start High School student admitted Monday that he brought a loaded handgun to school but maintained that the seven small bags of marijuana he had on him were for his use and not for sale.

Willie Carter III, 19, of 1928 Brame Pl. pleaded guilty in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to having a weapon while under disability but entered an Alford plea — not admitting guilt — to trafficking in marijuana.

Judge Ruth Ann Franks found him guilty of both of the felony charges and told him he faces up to 54 months in prison when he is sentenced July 22.

Carter, who has been in the Lucas County jail since his arrest, told the court he brought a .45-caliber pistol to school with him April 28 because he’d been shot at “multiple times” and was scared. “It was just for my safety,” he said.

Charles McDonald, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said Carter was found delinquent in 2010 in Lucas County Juvenile Court of robbery and therefore was barred from owning or possessing a firearm.

Start High School was locked down for three hours after police received a tip that Carter had a gun and then were told a second person might have a gun. The second tip proved untrue.

TPS spokesman Patty Mazur said Carter was expelled May 16 because of the incident.

In court Monday, Carter told Judge Franks he bought the marijuana for $50 that morning on his way to school. Although the marijuana was packaged in seven plastic bags, he said he didn’t plan to sell it, just to smoke it with friends.

Judge Franks refused to accept a guilty plea to the trafficking charge because his account of what happened did not meet the elements of that offense. Carter entered an Alford plea after talking with his attorney, Keith Mitchell.

In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit to committing a crime, but acknowledges evidence is sufficient for a conviction that could result in a more severe sentence.

As part of the plea agreement with Carter, charges of carrying a concealed weapon, illegal possession of a deadly weapon in a school-safety zone, and a second count of trafficking in marijuana are to be dismissed at sentencing.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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