Judge rejects Willie Nelson plea deal for marijuana possession

Texas judge refuses to reduce country singer's charge to class C misdemeanor

Willie Nelson's bag of marijuana just won't go away. A Texas judge has said she won't accept a plea deal relating to Nelson's drug bust in 2010, rejecting a proposal that would have had the country singer pay a fine of less than $1,000. "If Willie Nelson gets off with nothing, I'm not going to be part of it," judge Becky Dean-Walker told the New York Times.

Nelson was caught with marijuana during a 26 November traffic stop in Sierra Blanca, Texas. Although the singer faced up to six months in jail, a sympathetic prosecutor proposed he could be let off for just $378 (£236) and joked about a court-room performance of Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. "You bet your ass I ain't gonna be mean to Willie Nelson," Hudspeth county attorney Kit Bramblett told the Big Bend Sentinel. Judge Dean-Walker later intervened, calling this "a joke that got out of hand". At the time, she seemed lenient, with reports that Nelson could simply pay a $500 fine, plus court costs, by post. But Dean-Walker now insists she was misunderstood. "[Bramblett] has made a habit of speaking with the press before anything has been resolved," she explained.

Bramblett, Dean-Walker claims, is trying to go easy on "his favourite singer". Whereas agents originally recorded that they found six ounces of marijuana on Nelson's tour bus, Bramblett said the actual figure was about three ounces, plus "containers and paraphernalia". The prosecutor allegedly asked Dean-Walker to reduce Nelson's charge to a class C misdemeanor, which she refused to do. "If you're not going to do it for the guy in the corner, why do it for a celebrity?" she said.

Bramblett and Nelson have yet to respond to Dean-Walker's decision, but the judge doesn't seem to be in a hurry. "At no point," she said, "do I have to let [Nelson] off."


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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