By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A wheelchair-bound Atmore man who entered a guilty plea last year to first-degree marijuana possession and was sentenced to 97 months in prison, will serve at least five more years after he was turned down for parole recently by the Alabama Board of Pardons & Paroles.
Austin James Gray Jr., 44, is housed at Fountain Correctional Facility and has served just over 16 months of his sentence.
He was initially also charged with several other crimes after a raid on his Franklin Street home turned up a duffel bag containing approximately 1,610 grams of synthetic cannabis, 125 grams of marijuana and supplies for packaging and distributing the substances. Four firearms were also confiscated in the raid.
Gray’s current sentence marks the fourth time he has entered the state prison system since 2001. He served less than nine months of a 5-year sentence for distribution of a controlled substance (2015), just over 3-1/2 years of a 10-year sentence for possession of a forged instrument (2003), and just over two years of a 5-year sentence for the same crime (2001).
Also turned down for parole was a Brewton man, 36-year-old Jermaine Kartell Spears.
Spears has served almost two years of 15-year sentence he earned in 2020 after his conviction for an unspecified “offense against a person,” a Class B felony. He had also built up a bank of “good time” totaling 1,329 days, but 210 of those days have been revoked.
His current period of incarceration is his fifth prison stint since 2005. He has done time for offense against a person and escape (2017), offense against a person and second-degree assault (2013), and for first degree possession of marijuana (2008, 2005).