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Willie Nelson faces jail after Texas plea bargain falls through

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, July 7, 2011 15:43 EDT
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A west Texas judge said this week that she was rejecting a plea deal for legendary country-western musician Willie Nelson, who now faces up to a year in prison for marijuana possession.

The original deal, proposed by 78-year-old Hudspeth County prosecutor C.R. “Kit” Bramblett, would have reduced Nelson’s crime to a Class B misdemeanor, allowing him to plead guilty and pay a fine  – so long as he stopped by the courthouse to play a song.

However, speaking to the Associated Press this week, Hudspeth County Judge Beck Dean-Walker said that arrangement was not “fair” because “he doesn’t do that for anybody else.”

And that may indeed be true: Speaking to Raw Story in March, Bramblett claimed that Nelson is his favorite artist who he’s followed since even before he became famous.

“Somewhere in my past, I have a picture of Willie Nelson when he was 20 or 21 years old in Nashville,” he said in an exclusive interview. “He had on a zoot suit and a flat-top haircut. [...] I don’t know, I’ve looked for that picture the last 15, 20 years but I can’t find it. I was going to get him to autograph it for me.”

Bramblett added that Dean-Walker might not accept the plea-by-mail deal, simply because she wants to meet Nelson too. He also expressed a desire to see marijuana possession decriminalized in Texas.

Nelson was caught with just over six ounces of marijuana, but was officially charged with just over three: coming in below the bar for a felony prosecution, officially due to heavy “packaging” throwing off the initial police estimate.

With Dean-Walker’s announcement this week, Nelson’s charge remains a Class A misdemeanor. Bramblett had tried to reduce it to possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class B misdemeanor. Nelson was arrested in November.

Over 70,000 people across Texas were caught with under four ounces of marijuana in 2009, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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