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Published: Tuesday, 4/1/2008

Lima man pleads guilty before jury trial

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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LIMA, Ohio - A Lima man whose arrest led to the fatal shooting of his girlfriend entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors yesterday that will require him to go to prison.

Anthony Terry, 32, pleaded guilty in Allen County Common Pleas Court to one count of trafficking in crack cocaine and two counts each of trafficking in marijuana and permitting drug abuse. His case was to go before a jury today.

Judge Jeffrey Reed told him repeatedly that a conviction for trafficking in crack cocaine carried a mandatory prison sentence. In total, Terry could receive up to 13 years in prison when he is sentenced.

"You're going to get a prison sentence. How long that prison sentence is, is yet to be determined," Judge Reed told him before accepting his plea and finding him guilty.

As part of the agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop eight other felonies. Assistant Allen County Prosecutor Dan Berry also told the court prosecutors would not pursue any additional charges stemming from the Jan. 4 search of the Third Street home of Terry's girlfriend, Tarika Wilson, 26, who was shot to death by police.

Mr. Berry said after the hearing that because drugs were found in the house the night of Terry's arrest, prosecutors could have sought drug-possession charges. He said the plea agreement seemed to be the best resolution of the case.

"Looking at the totality of the circumstances and perhaps some pressure our informants might have had, we felt this was adequate," Mr. Berry said.

Terry's attorney, James King, declined to comment afterward.

Judge Reed ordered a presentence investigation but did not schedule a sentencing date for Terry.

Terry was arrested Jan. 4 after police executed a "no-knock" search warrant at Wilson's home. For still-unexplained reasons, Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, a member of the police department's SWAT team, shot Wilson to death during the raid and wounded her 1-year-old son.

Last month, Sergeant Chavalia, 52, was indicted by an Allen County grand jury on misdemeanor counts of negligent homicide and negligent assault stemming from the shooting of Wilson and her son, Sincere. Some members of the black community expressed outrage that more serious charges were not filed against an officer who shot and killed an unarmed woman as she held her son in her arms.

They questioned why police didn't arrest Terry when he made a drug deal but instead arrested him at a home where they knew children lived.

Fifth Ward Councilman Tommy Pitts, who attended yesterday's court hearing, said Terry's case was typical of how blacks are treated by the criminal justice system.

"It's like dj vu," he said. "It's just the same old allowing African-Americans to get multiple counts against them."

Long before Wilson was killed, Mr. Pitts tried to bring attention to what he called the unfair practice of police making multiple drug buys from black defendants resulting in more charges and longer sentences than white defendants.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.


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