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Aug 05

Sentencing

Colonel

Colonel

Sentencing

The feeling I was getting about the sentencing phase of the court-martial, wasn’t a good one.

Colonel Grainger was a Vietnam era soldier with a reputation for being one of the tougher judges at Fort Polk. He was in his office deciding my future.

There was nothing else that I could say or do on my own.

I knew that when he came out that I would be told that prison was my destination. I just didn’t know for how long.

I’m pretty sure I said one of those prayers like, “God, please let him go easy on me.” Seemed like a good time for that.

The amount of time he took to make his sentencing decision was exactly thirty-seven minutes. Pretty quick for a serious decision like this. However it was one of the longest waiting periods of my life.

Colonel Grainger: “Court will come to order.”

A statement was made about everyone being present.

Colonel Grainger: “Before I announce the sentence there’s a couple of things that I think need to be said. First, this is probably one of the most aggravated drug cases the court has seen in recent times because of the number and types of drugs sold, the number of occasions and to the widespreadness of the distribution. Had it not been for the accused’s cooperation with the CID, this court would sentence this accused to a period of confinement close to what the government asked for.

The court believes that the accused has attempted to make the curve and make the turn toward becoming a rehabilitated member of society. And because he’s made that turn, I think it’s necessary to give him substantial credit for that. He didn’t have to do that. He could have sat back and not cooperated with the police and not done that. So the court is going to give him a lot of credit for it. And bear in mind, this is an aggravated case indeed and your prior crimes can’t go unanswered.

Counsel and accused, please rise.”

Captain Jokinen and I, stood before the military judge to receive sentencing.

I was nervous, and I’m sure I prayed one of these “God if you get me out of this” prayers.

Colonel Grainger: “Private David C. Mike, it is my duty as military judge to sentence you:

To be reduced to the grade of Private E-1, to forfeit all pay and allowances, to be confined for five years, and to be discharged from the service with a dishonorable discharge.”

The rest of the discussion about appeals and post-trial rights were a blur.

Colonel Grainger asked if I had any questions. I said, “No, Your Honor.”

I was credited thirty-seven days of pretrial confinement towards my five year sentence and then the court-martial was adjourned.

Outside the court room a few people were waiting to hear the results. Jane came for moral support. Eddie was there because if I changed my plea to not guilty, he would have been called to the stand as a witness for the prosecution. My two fellow platoon members and of course my dad. SFC Smith and Special Agent Thundercloud had already left.

In my immature bravado, I mentioned how 5 years was going to be a piece of cake. You know, “I can do this!”

My dad held up pretty well. I would not see him again for a few years. Even though all of this was going on, I knew that he still loved me. He even said it out loud in the trial.

I said my goodbyes to everyone except Eddie. I knew I would see him again very soon since I would be a witness in his court-martial.

As I got into the car that would be taking me back to the Vernon Parish Jail, the thoughts started to break through the numbness.

Five years….

I didn’t expect that.

It was more time than any of the other dealers got in the past. I was hoping for between three and four years. This would have meant that I would have gone to Fort Riley, Kansas.

They had a detention facility there that was more like a military training environment. It was much less intense and where you wanted to be if you had to do time.

A five year sentence was insurance that I would be shipped to the United States Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Meanwhile, my dad returned to his hotel and walked into the elevator. As the doors closed shut, he let go of the strength he had been holding on to and wept.

God answered my prayer that day. Even though I didn’t think he did. 

 

If “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 2:23a), then Colonel Grainger did go easy on me. 

 

I may not have gotten what I deserved, but I did get what I needed.

 

God knew exactly how much time was necessary to spend in prison for Him to get my attention.

 

Article

Article From Army Newspaper

  • bb

    This post made me sad for you, and all the people that love you.

    • David Mike

      It’s been a long process and although bruised and scarred, we’ve made it out alive. Thanks for following along.

  • David-
    God always knows the exact amount of time he needs. Too often, we don’t. thanks brother!

    • David Mike

      In hindsight and with maturity, I can see this now. Thanks for your support Matt.

  • Steven Tessler

    As I’ve said before I never had to be at a courts martial. I was only at non-judical punishment. However I would always swallow deeply when the verdict was read for the sailors I had to represent and it was somewhat close to this.

    Several sailors were in fact discharged from the Navy and some saw it coming and for some it hit them hard.

    They always told me the thing that hurt the worst was the loss of their money.

    Their confinement was to the ship sometimes up to 45 days. Nothing compared to what you received so I would assume that the forfeiture of pay was of concern but not as much as confinement.

    Can’t wait for next week!!

    • David Mike

      The worst part for me now is the fact that I did not serve my country with honor. During the first Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan, many people have died for my freedom and I have a dishonorable discharge. Humiliating.

  • Scott Musgrave

    Will you go into your story while in prison?

    • David Mike

      Yes, I will be writing about the whole experience. It wasn’t until near the end of my time in Leavenworth that God revealed to me a message about Grace.

  • Deanna

    As a parent, I can imagine how hard this must have been for your dad. So glad this is not the end of the story for you!

    • David Mike

      Deanna, I have three daughters and I can’t image them being in this position. I’m glad that my family supported me through all of this. Some are not so blessed. Thanks for your comment today.

  • Charles Johnston

    Five years minus a few days served..the plan unfolds in His timing not ours.

    • David Mike

      Very true Charles. A eternity to us is just a blip on God’s radar and we are just along for the ride. I’m grateful for my mess to be used for his message.

  • Darren Mike

    I’m trying really hard to remember, but I think I can only count on 2 fingers the amount of times I’ve seen dad cry. Once at grandmas funeral, and the other is just because I’m sure I’m leaving one out. The image of dad breaking down in the elevator carries a ton of emotion. I cried when I read it. Thanks for telling your story David. I know it’s a strange choice of words, but I am “enjoying” it.

    • David Mike

      Dad shared that with me in conversation recently. God is still showing me things through this process of writing. The timing is perfect because I could not have handled this responsibility at a younger age. I appreciate all the shares. Love you.

  • I had to keep my eyes from darting down to read the sentencing. I made myself take my time. I was worked up just reading it. I can’t even imagine what you were feeling as you waited for your sentencing.
    The image of your dad crying brought tears to my eyes.
    I cannot wait to hear how God continued to work in your life!

    • David Mike

      It could have been so much worse. I am thankful it wasn’t more. Unfortunately at the time I felt invincible. I still was suffering the effects of altered reality. Soon, you will read about the incident that made me realize that I messed up bad and I was hurting other people. Thank you Brandon!

  • Wow. I’ve been quiet from commenting lately, I just wanted to see how it all unfolded. To say I’m just a little interested in how Leavenworth turned out along with how everything finally turned around would be an understatement. Thanks for telling your story David.

    • David Mike

      Mark, I was just thinking about you today! Every time I see the Canadian flag in my stats, I wonder if it’s you. I appreciate your comment today.

  • Gregory Williams

    Wow. David this retired AF Lt Col is still awed by your openness to share your story. I really do appreciate you willingness to let others share a little piece of this journey you’ve been on… the good, the bad and the ugly. As has been said by many others, it’s all in God’s time. I often wondered, but couldn’t say that, when dealing with the military justice system whether the people involved really understood that they were there for a reason…. God’s reason…

    • David Mike

      From my experience, I don’t think many did. Most of the inmates I served time with had hardened hearts. I even saw some get out and come right back after violating their parole. Very sad. Thank you for your support. I appreciate the insight from all the honorable vets that take the time to comment.

  • You’ve gotten a lot of comments on this one and that is understandable. This one is the culmination of all you’ve been telling us to this point. This was a major turning point and it really hits us hard, as if we are standing beside you in the courtroom as the judge tells you what’s coming.

    Your writing is strong and emotional and carries us through each moment. I love the candor you offer about your cursory prayers with God – the bargaining with him, the trying to persuade him of your goodness, in a way.

    And I love that you are able to see who you were and write from that place, and that you are able to provide perspective from who you are and write from there, too. That’s a pretty impressive writing talent, my friend.

    And it’s even more of an emotional hit that this happened only a few days out from Christmas…

    • David Mike

      A friend recommended some introspection in each post. I thought it was a great idea and so I have added that in. It makes total sense. I will add more of that in the revision. Thank you for helping me out!

  • What a timely post. I’m going through something very similar with my brother. He is going to prison and for longer than we thought but how long hasn’t been determined yet. Yet, in the middle of it all, God is present and like your last line states God knows exactly how much time is necessary to get my brother’s attention.

    • David Mike

      Shelly, I am sorry that your family is going through this. I hope God reaches him the way He reached me. I will pray for you guys. It is possible, I am proof.

  • Edna Guerrero

    I started reading your story from the beginning just yesterday & held back from commenting. But after reading this post I couldn’t reaist. I am just so full of emotion. Tears, sadness, happiness all rolled up in one. As I read about your dad weaping, heart was full and the tears just wouldn’t stop. A parents love is so strong and God’s will is even bigger. God is merciful. God answers prayers. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • David Mike

      Thank you so much for reading it. I’m so thankful that even though I did all of this, I was not discarded and forgotten. God’s grace is so big. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  • Oh man! 5 years! Leavenworth! I can’t imagine how scary that would be.

    • David Mike

      I really thought it was going to be a cake walk, not until I got there did it sink in. Not the brightest time in my life.

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