A drug dealer from Lacy Lakeview whose federal drug sentence was commuted by former President Barack Obama is headed back to prison on new state and federal charges.
Ricky Lamont Garrett, 38, was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to evading arrest in a vehicle. As part of the plea agreement, Judge Matt Johnson of Waco's 54th State District Court stacked that sentence onto a 21-month federal prison term Garrett is serving for possession with intent to distribute ecstasy.
Garrett was arrested on both of those charges in January 2018, about two years after his release from federal prison when Obama commuted his sentence as part of a plan to correct what the former president called systematic injustice in federal sentencing guidelines that he thought were too harsh.
The commutation cut Garrett's 224-month federal prison sentence for possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine by about 16 years.
Garrett was indicted as a habitual criminal in his most-recent cases because of his 2007 federal drug conviction and a 2000 deadly conduct conviction in which he threatened someone with a gun. He also has a 1999 felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance and a 2005 misdemeanor conviction for escape from custody, court records show.
McLennan County Assistant District Attorney Danielle London said she was frustrated after learning Garrett was back in McLennan County committing crimes after Obama cut his federal prison term short. Jurors likely would have given Garrett two life prison terms on the habitual charges once they learned of his commutation, London said.
"I think a McLennan County jury would be very angry that somebody who should have still been in federal prison was free and committing dangerous felonies in our community," London said. "There are legitimate concerns about some of the federal sentences imposed in some of the drug cases, but the program was purported to be for nonviolent drug offenders.
"This individual was a violent felon before this happened and should not have been eligible for such a program," she said.
Garrett's attorney, Susan Kelly, said Garrett knows he "blew it" by not taking advantage of Obama's actions, but added he pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility for what he did.
"He is habitual, so the minimum was 25 years on the evading, even though evading by itself is not a real serious crime," Kelly said. "But it was 25 to life because he had prior felonies. Ricky knows he messed up and that he will be in for a while. He also knows that he might get maybe one more shot and that there are just almost no more chances. He was given the opportunity to be outside of prison and to live a good life and he messed up."
Garrett, who London said has guns tattooed on his back and other tattoos that possibly tie him to gang activity, pleaded guilty in Waco's federal court in 2007 after he was caught with about 200 grams of crack cocaine. He was sentenced to 224 months in prison, or more than 18 years.
Obama commuted his sentence in 2016, and he was one of 1,715 federal inmates whose sentences Obama cut short, more than any other U.S. president. In his last major act as president in early January 2017, Obama commuted the sentences of 330 federal inmates convicted of drug crimes, the most issued by any president in a single day, The Associated Press reported.
Garrett also was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison after his supervised release was revoked, a term that will run concurrently with his new federal drug sentence, officials said. Garrett must serve his federal time before he starts serving his 25-year state time.
Garrett went back to jail in January 2018 after McLennan County sheriff's deputies pursued him in a high-speed chase down Waco Drive during which he ran multiple red lights, according to court records. Garrett finally pulled over and handed his license to deputies, but took off again.
Deputies did not continue the chase, deeming it too dangerous. But they had his license and address, and when they caught up to him at his residence, they found three bags of ecstasy in his car, records indicate.