‘Mid-level’ meth dealer sentenced to 28 years
A 30-year-old methamphetamine dealer who robbed his supplier last spring has been sentenced to 28 years in state prison Monday by a judge who said he links much of Mesa County’s violent crime to meth addiction and trade.
Andrew Watson pleaded guilty on June 1 to a single felony count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and robbery.
Watson was charged with the drug offense in connection with a major multi-jurisdictional drug bust last summer that resulted in more than 30 drug dealers and suppliers being taken into custody. Mesa County Assistant District Attorney Rich Tuttle on Monday described Watson as a mid-level player in the scheme, which has led to some major dealers being sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.
Another alleged dealer in the ring was Brian Doyle, whom defense attorney JR Davis — who along with attorney Marna Lake is representing Watson — described as Watson’s dealer.
On May 1, 2016, before the drug ring arrests were made, Doyle alleged that Watson stole his money, got in a vehicle driven by another man and fled. Doyle and a fourth man gave chase, and at some point as the two vehicles were chasing each other through Grand Junction, somebody in the fleeing vehicle fired a gun, striking and wounding the man riding with Doyle.
Tuttle said prosecutors believe Watson fired the gun, although Lake denied the allegation. Lake said Watson has asserted that the driver of the car he was in — who wasn’t found by either law enforcement or defense investigators — pulled the trigger. She played a voicemail for Mesa County District Judge Brian Flynn that Doyle left her last fall in which he said the shooting victim didn’t know who Watson was the day of the shooting.
Davis and Lake, who admitted their client stole Doyle’s money and that he was involved in dealing drugs, told Flynn that Doyle was acting as Watson’s supervisor in the loosely structured drug conspiracy.
“I’m not trying to minimize Mr. Watson’s culpability in this case,” Lake said. “I just wanted to point out that … he was working at the direction of somebody else.”
Flynn had the option to sentence Watson to up to 16 years in prison in the drug conspiracy case, and from four to 12 years in the robbery case.
Lake and Davis asked that Flynn sentence Watson to concurrent sentences, as did Watson’s mother and Watson himself.
Tuttle asked for a sentence in the “upper half” of the sentencing range, and that his two sentences run one after another, pointing out that Watson was on parole when he committed the new crimes.
“Most of the people in the wiretap case did not shoot anybody, nor did they rob anybody,” Tuttle said, referring to Watson’s 30-some co-defendants in the drug conspiracy case.
Flynn ordered Watson serve the maximum sentences of 16 and 12 years, back to back, a decision met by tears from the 30-year-old’s mother.
“You were a very active methamphetamine dealer,” Flynn told Watson, adding that meth dealers in Grand Junction “should expect a very substantial penalty for that.”
Watson has been accused in another shooting at a Clifton gas station that left a man wounded in late May 2016. He is scheduled to stand trial in that case later this year.