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Iraqi vet struggling with disability, drug abuse avoids jail

PTSD (US Army/Released)

An Iraqi veteran, who by his own admission is unemployable and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), asked for help battling his substance abuse during a probation violation hearing and received some encouragement and a promise.

The encouragement from Criminal Court Judge Wesley Bray was to continue seeing help being offered by the VA and other groups. The judge also promised that if he violated terms of his probation again, the outcome would most likely be different.

Matthew Glenn Taylor pleaded guilty in early 2015 to felony possession of methamphetamine and received a six-year sentence to be served on supervised probation.

By May 19 of that year — two days after being released from incarceration — Taylor tested positive for the use of marijuana.

State probation officer Christopher Goddard testified that on July 7, 2019, Taylor was arrested for driving under the influence in Putnam County. This resulted in Taylor appearing earlier this month for a probation violation hearing.

Assistant District Attorney General Philip Hatch told the court that the state had no alternative but to ask that Taylor serve the balance of his sentence, citing Taylor’s track record.

Defense attorney Ivy Gardner countered that up until November 2018, Taylor had been a successful probationer with no serious problems.

Taylor testified during his hearing that he was in the military from 2002 to 2006 and that service included a year in Iraq. He returned home in shambles, being diagnosed with PTSD. His disability requires monthly treatment at the VA.

Taylor continued that his issues has weighed heavy on his marriage and that he is separated from his wife. If he were sentenced to prison, he would lose his benefits which would adversely affect his ability to care for his son.

Taylor noted that he feels long-term rehabilitation would be helpful for him and that he did not oppose treatment in Veterans Court or Drug Court.

Garner noted that Taylor has served 158 days, as of the hearing earlier this month, and she suggested he be released to house arrest supervision of community corrections. An alternative could be a split sentence, Garner added, but her client needs to continue to get help for his substance abuse and disability.

Bray listened to both arguments and ruled, “it is obvious you are in violation of probation.”

The judge told Taylor he appreciated his serving, but, “the rules have to be followed.” Bray then ruled that Taylor be revoked and credited with time served (the 158 days) and that he continue to attend sessions with the VA and a relatively new rehab-associated program.


© 2020 the Crossville Chronicle