Newsbrief: Life for Brownies? California Man Faces Three-Strikes Penalty 6/14/02

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A suburban San Diego man is facing a possible life sentence under California's Three-Strikes law for helping his 15-year-old son make marijuana brownies. Steven Wells, 48, of Mira Mesa, faces felony charges of furnishing marijuana to a minor, adulterating food and failing to register as a sex offender. Wells was convicted in 1992 of two child molestation charges, making him eligible for the state's 25-years-to-life Three-Strikes sentencing provision if convicted.

San Diego prosecutors also charged Wells with child abuse, arguing that he hurt his son when he gave him marijuana, but Superior Court Judge Marguerite Wiss viewed that as overreaching and dismissed that count. "I'm not convinced it causes great bodily injury for a 15-year-old to have a [pot-laced] brownie," she told prosecutors. The charge of adulterating food may also be a stretch.

Defense attorney Bill Nimmo conceded in court that Wells gave his son the marijuana, but said the charge should be reduced to a misdemeanor. "He likes his marijuana," Nimmo told the court. Nimmo told the San Jose Mercury News that giving Wells a life sentence for making brownies with his son was absurd. "It's a sign of government out of control," he said.

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