The probationer admitted while testifying under oath he smoked a marijuana cigarette with his 97-year-old grandmother on his return to Tennessee from Florida the day after graduating from rehab. For that revelation, he was sent back to jail to think about his lapse in judgment.
William James Seney V, 29, appeared last Friday before Criminal Court Judge Wesley Bray, who rhetorically asked, “The question becomes, what do I do with you?” Bray ruled he found Seney had violated conditions of his probation and ordered him to serve a year in jail.
During that time, Seney is to undergo alcohol and drug assessments and complete any recommended followup. Once the year is up, he is to be released under house arrest supervision for the balance of his five-year sentence.
Seney was on probation after pleading guilty to aggravated burglary and possession of methamphetamine in October 2017. At that time he received a five-year prison sentence with furlough granted to attend and complete an extensive in-house treatment program.
During Seney’s probation violation hearing, Tennessee Department of Corrections Board of Probation and Parole Officer Christopher Goddard testified that Seney tested positive in May 2019 for methamphetamine, amphetamine and marijuana. The findings were confirmed by a lab test as well as chemical test at the probation office.
Seney did not report to his probation officer after failing the test and was arrested for violating his probation in January of this year.
Seney’s attorney, Cynthia Lyons, noted that prior to the test, Seney’s grandmother died, and that family event had a harsh affect on her client.
Under cross examination from Assistant District Attorney Amanda Worley, Goddard testified that Seney had been given a previous chance after he was sanctioned — and not revoked — for violation rules and conditions of probation.
Seney then decided to testify after being given repeated warnings that he did not have to testify and that anything that came out during questioning could be used against him. Seney stated he wanted to take the witness stand.
The defendant said he was in rehab for two years at a facility in Fort Walton, FL, and on his return home once he graduated and was released from rehab, smoked marijuana with his grandmother.
He also said he smoked dope with her the night before he was randomly tested at the probation office because marijuana gave her more relief from the effects of cancer than her prescribed medication.
“I regretted it right away,” Seney told the judge.
While being questioned by his attorney, Seney told the court that he was locally employed, was responsible for paying $405 in child support monthly and has two daughters who rely on him to provide for them.
He added that his employer was holding a job open for him once he was released from his latest incarceration.
Under questioning from Worley, however, Seney admitted to smoking marijuana with his grandmother “the day after graduating from rehab while coming home.”
Worley told Bray the state was seeking to have Seney serve the full five-year sentence, stating he “was given a gift at sentencing (furlough for rehab) … and never showed back up to report to his probation officer when he failed his drug test.”
Lyons countered that despite hitting “a major bump in the road,” Seney had exhibited sincere efforts on trying to overcome the addiction that has led to his legal woes.
“He has made imperfect efforts, but he is a productive member of society and is capable of succeeding,” Lyons argued. “He his asking for another chance.”
Bray responded, “He (Seney) has the tools, based on his rehab, to be successful … there is not question about the positive drug test.”
He then ordered the one-year incarceration followed by house arrest probation as “the last step” and promised serving the balance of his sentence should he appear before the court again.