Missouri Siblings Handed Lengthy Prison Terms for Small Marijuana Grow

Missouri Siblings Handed Lengthy Prison Terms for Small Marijuana Grow

FARMINGTON, MO — An eastern Missouri brother and sister have been sentenced to a combined 37 years in prison for growing 12 pot plants and eight seedlings.

David DePriest

David DePriest

On Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Kenneth W. Pratte sentenced 24-year-old David DePriest  to 22 years in prison, and his 36-year-old sister, Natalie DePriest, received a 15-year sentence.

Prosecutors sought the harsh sentences, saying it was a “large-scale” grow and that guns and bullet-proof vests were present in the home.

But neither the guns nor vests were illegal, and the couple wasn’t charged with a weapons enhancement.

Defense Attorney Dan Viets had asked for 5 years probation following the completion of a 120 day drug treatment program, arguing that 12 plants and eight baby sprouts in a closet are not a “large-scale” operation.  The judge said “no.”

Natalie DePriest

Natalie DePriest

During the sentencing, Viets began to talk about the latest polls showing that the majority of Americans are now in favor of legalizing marijuana, but Judge Pratte interrupted, saying “the law is the law.”

Viets is the chairman of Show Me Cannabis and the state coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

David and Natalie DePriest were arrested in the fall of 2011.

  • Mike


  • Jason

    This makes my blood boil.

  • paddywhackle

    Fuck that judge. What a piece of shit. Strip him of his robe that arrogant fucking asshole prick.

  • Data Schmata

    Judge and prosecutors are psychopaths.

  • Carson Sylvander

    This, my friends it literal bullshit.

  • Silverado

    That’s why they call the place Misery.

  • Dean Becker

    History will soon enough show the judge and DA to be deviant, ignoramus and servants of Satan himself.

  • adela

    do we know what prison/jail they are in?
    I would like to write to them..

    • thedailychronic

      We contacted their defense attorney, as soon as we have that info we’ll post it here.

  • gordon_wagner

    Jury nullification is something that needs to happen a lot more often. Your role as a juror is not to mete out punishment, but to act as a last bastion against tyrannical legislation — and growing a PLANT is just not much of a crime. Ask yourself — did even ONE “too big to fail” banker spend one day in jail? For gaming and crashing the US economy? No, they sure didn’t. And those were real crimes that ruined people’s lives and took everything they had. These two people grew a few plants. This shouldn’t even merit a fine. Leave people alone to live their lives as they see fit.

  • Bud Green

    Here is the story. Brother and sister share apt. The guy is a certified gunsmith. One was a class project, one was his dad’s that he was going to blue for him, and the large cache of ammo was basically a bunch of random ammo a gunsmith would aquire. He hired our best marijuana defense team here in Mo., but that was the fatal mistake. The judge and prosecutor (St. Francis County, Farmington, Mo. 63640) took offense to that and made sure the defendants were heavily penalized for fighting so hard. Dan Viets was the Attorney. He is the head of Missouri NORML, also. But like in this case, that can come back and bite you in the ass. I am one of the few people to more or less successfully fight a misdemeanor pot charge, but used public defender and kept demanding a jury trial until I forced their hand and would only agree to 1 yr. bench probation or give me a jury. They had no choice. Too busy. One of the judges finally had to resign because he was sending so many drug defendants to his own “for profit” rehab center. VERY hardcore here in MISERY (MISSOURI).

    • Mike

      Thanks for the lowdown.

      Our “justice” system has been thoroughly corrupted by the war on marijuana. Just to deal with the case load, most defendants have to plead without a trial. Then the principle of guilty until proven innocent is used as a fig leaf by vengeful judges who arrogantly believe that the accused should have just taken the deal, rather than use up some of his golf dates by asking for the right of every American, a trail by a jury of one’s peers.

      Frankly, judges that regularly hand down sentence after convictions at jury trials that exceed the sentences imposed after guilty pleas should be removed from the bench. They corrupt the system.

      I do have to reflect on the issue of jury nullification as both an advocate of it as a movement strategy, as someone who has sat on juries, and as someone who has faced that choice myself. It is risky, especially if you draw a judge like the pig in this case. Those counting on it should be clear it depends on luck of the draw and good organizing. Jurors are indoctrinated that it’s the law that must be followed, not their conscience, justice, or even what’s constitutional. Thus, the jury pool needs to be educated in the jurisdiction. You can’t just count on someone waking from the nightmare of the drug war and suddenly seeing clearly it’s their duty to acquit.

      I won’t speak to the decisions made in this case, as that’s between the attorney’s and their clients. It’s tough to pull off a successful defense in any case and places like much of Missouri where the jackboot still rules are particularly difficult. As a movement strategy, it’s probably best to concentrate on cases in jurisdictions that at least balance their idea of justice with fairness in terms of the judicial context they will take place in. That way the risks to individuals is less, but the potential for a high-profile win is greater.

      But there’s another aspect to this strategy. A few cases here and there where defendants demand a trial hardly slows the grinding wheels of oppression down. Another approach is to try to organize among ourselves to promote a demand for jury trials, instead of taking plea bargains. In any jurisdiction in this country, no matter how liberal or conservative, if defendants did that, the entire system would grind to a halt within months. The system is overloaded as it is, where some like >95% of all defendants take the plea bargain. If we could just push the number of trials to 25% or greater of all prosecutions, there aren’t enough courtrooms and prisons in the country to deal with the mess that would soon create. Again, choice of jurisdiction is important, but less critical than in a simple jury nullification approach, because simply demanding a trial use the old political ju jitsu of getting the opponent to do what they are inclined to do anyway in the short run, only to find out we’re using that against them in the long run.

      To make that a successful tactic, others in this thread have already been asking about how they can give psychological support to these two prisoners of war by writing letters. Good start. We need to support our POWs in that and many other ways. If we do that, more people will be willing to confront the system in the court room. Make no mistake about it. They are POWs just as much as anyone who sat in the Hanoi Hilton. This is one area where we could do much more. Our prisoners need to feel our support. They are among our most underutilized resources in terms of organizing resistance, whether as rallying cries to finish this thing or as people who’ll just need our help, while behind bars and after release..

  • Bud Green

    Dailychronic, I live there. dailyjournalonline.com is local newspaper. Any other questions feel free to ask. I have extensive, accurate knowledge on many drug issues here. Unfortunately for me, I rode the bus to school with the dude who would eventually start the Southeast Mo. Drug Task Force. He has actually watch me smoke weed. Couldn’t lie about that. He has always thought that I was Mr. Big. Told me to my face. But they finally had me on felony intent to sell. Get back downstairs after interrogation/argument with aforementioned dumbass, lol, and the arresting deputy had dumped all 4 bags (3 1/4’s and personal) into one for weighing and fucked their felony case up (this was Dec. 1990). Less than 35 grams=misdemeanor. LMFAO!. If there was only room to tell the whole story behind my charges here. As a side, back in high school the Daily Journal owner’s son and me were smokin buddies. He got caught with a little weed in a not so legal way and it was thrown out AND a “do not hassle defendant” order(my wording) was issued. On Friday or Saturday nights we would get behind that cop and follow him around whilst smokin’ doobies. 30 minutes or so. They didn’t say we couldn’t hassle them. lol Ahhh, the power of big money AND the press.

  • Bud Green

    Local newspaper for this story: dailyjournalonline.com

  • itsaboutime

    I love my country but I hate my Government. I am a LEGAL grower of medical marijuana here in Michigan. I comply 100% with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Laws BUT, last Friday, two officers from the Central Michigan Drug Enforcement Team came by my house to check out my grow operation. I gave them permission to search my entire home, garage, and 2 out buildings. After they had completed their bullshit search, one of the pricks noticed that I had a Concealed Weapons Permit in my billfold under my Medical Marijuana Card. They asked if I had any weapons on the property. I said I did and showed them my gun safe which contains about 5K worth of guns. Guess what? The pricks confiscated my guns under Federal Law because the Federal Law considers marijuana a controled substance and anybody who possesses or uses a controled substance CANNOT own or possess weapons of any kind. I am a 70 year old Viet Nam veteran who has been hunting since I was 10 years old. Within the past few years, I purchased an AK-47 military type rifle, passed a state certified course to carry a concealed weapon, and applied for a Medical Marijuana Card because I have cancer. Each of these actions required a complete background check and I passed all 3 with flying colors. Neither of these assholes ever served in the military but they were both dressed like Rambo and had their Glock pistols strapped to their leg. These 2 assholes are nothing more than a couple pricks on an ego trip trying to climnb the ladder of success and they could care less who they step on during the process.

    • http://theablefew.com Mike Bishop

      Jesus christ! That sounds horrifying. I hope you get your possessions back. I am looking into this “cannot own or posses weapons” bit … that is news to me.

      • itsaboutime

        the gate swings both ways on this issue. It is all up to the agent. Either he can be understanding because you are following Michigan law, OR he can be a prick and enforce Federal Law, even though he is under the payroll of the Michigan Gvernment.

        • guest

          Or he can shoot you on the spot because he is so far above the common citizen that if you so much as make him think you have disrespected him he has the full legal right to kill you, your pets, your family, all with utter impunity. Who cares what Federal or Michigan law says? What kind of dumb-fuck loser on either side of the war follows the law? The law is just there to keep up appearances. It is perfectly acceptable in our culture to round up and dispose of anyone who isn’t playing the game.

    • guest

      Wait, you’re alive? ROFL what’d you do, suck their dicks? Bribe them? How much did you pull out of your bank-account to keep them from turning you into a bullet-riddled corpse?

  • adela

    The Attorney Dan Viets is a jerk. I called his office and asked what prison/jail the DePriest are at–and they pretty much said how would we know they were taken from court then. Why should we care, and how would we know…maybe because they are your clients and you should care..and if someone is reaching out to show support and want to write them letters you bend over backwards to help them. Stay very far away from Dan. What a joke….

    • guest

      He’s a rich asshole, which side do you think he’s on? He could cut off your fucking head* and post the video on Youtube and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop him. (*if you’re not white)

  • http://theablefew.com Mike Bishop

    When: “the law is the law.” is your last defense to a ruling, then the law must change!!! WAKE UP MISSOURI!!!!

  • MikeParent

    More morally bankrupt enforcement. Yet, Busch manufactures Boat loads of the really dangerous drug, alcohol with impunity.

    FACT Marijuana is less addictive and less harmful than Caffeine, let alone Alcohol and Tobacco; (3 Scientific Studies)
    BTW, Dr Henningfield is a former NIDA Staffer;.
    Addictiveness of Marijuana – ProCon.Org.

    “Narcotics police are an enormous, corrupt international bureaucracy … and now fund a coterie of researchers who provide them with ‘scientific support’ … fanatics who distort the legitimate research of others. … The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents.”
    — William F. Buckley,
    Commentary in The National Review, April 29, 1983, p. 495

  • guest

    Tell that to the cartels who slip money over the border into Busch’s hands to lobby for their continued control of the market.

  • Godshelper Fourtwenty

    Did I go back in time? Circuit Court Judge Kenneth W. Pratte do you not care how this make you and Missouri look. Judge Kenneth W. Pratte do you not have internet? THE WAR ON CANNABIS IS OVER…somebody please get the Judge a computer. Also Judge Kenneth W. Pratte it is not hard to get the truth about CANNABIS just google it, the word is out and it is in small words you should be able to understand. Was this guy voted into office?