PAOLA — John Daniel Hastings was sentenced Thursday, July 25, in Miami County District Court to 82 months (6 years and 10 months) in state prison on convictions for four felony drug counts and one felony firearm charge.
Chief Judge Amy Harth sentenced Hastings to 57 months for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and 16 months for distribution of marijuana. Both were maximum sentences, based on the sentencing grid. Those sentences are to run consecutively, which means one after the other.
Judge Harth sentenced Hastings to 11 months on each of two drug paraphernalia counts, which are to run concurrently, or at the same time, with each other and the first two sentences. Eleven months was mid-range sentences.
The judge also sentenced Hastings to the maximum nine months for the felon in possession of a firearm count. That sentence is to run consecutively.
When combined, the three consecutive sentences total 82 months. Hastings is to serve the time with the state Department of Corrections. The judge denied probation.
A jury on Jan. 24 found Hastings guilty of distribution of marijuana (less than 25 grams) and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute (more than 25 grams but less than 450 grams), as well as two drug paraphernalia charges related to two bags containing marijuana that detectives with the Miami County Sheriff’s Office discovered in a safe in Hastings’ bedroom.
Detectives also discovered a rifle in Hastings’ bedroom closet that he said belonged to a friend. The jury convicted Hastings of being a felon in possession of a firearm because of a prior felony on his juvenile record that occurred within the last five years.
Sheriff’s detectives obtained a warrant May 14, 2018, to search Hastings’ bedroom after receiving a report that day about a possible sexual assault connected with a May 12, 2018, drug transaction at his Bucyrus home. During Hastings’ trial, a woman testified that Hastings sexually assaulted her in his bedroom after selling marijuana to her. At the time the woman was 18 and Hastings was 20.
The jury found Hastings not guilty of one count of rape and two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy but could not reach a decision on a second count of rape, and Judge Harth declared a mistrial on that specific count. But the jury found him guilty on the five felony drug and firearm counts.
At the July 25 sentencing hearing, defense attorney Forrest Lowry argued that Hastings should be placed on probation and that the sentences for the five felony counts should run concurrently, not consecutively. He noted the charges were related to marijuana, not a more harmful drug like methamphetamine.
County Attorney Elizabeth Sweeney-Reeder argued that the sentences should run consecutively and that probation be denied. She cited his frequent brushes with the law since 2015, including previous drug charges and a case of battering a law enforcement officer in Cass County, Mo., which she said Hastings was still on probation for at the time of his arrest in 2018 in Miami County.
She noted Hastings not only was in violation of his probation in Cass County but warrants were out for his arrest in two other jurisdictions related to other criminal charges.
Before sentencing, Hastings apologized for his crimes and asked to be put on probation. Hastings said he would have a place to live and a job waiting for him if he were granted probation. He also said he has played a positive role in his younger brother’s life and wanted to continue to be there to support his brother and his mother. He said warrants from other jurisdictions were issued because he failed to make court appearances while being incarcerated in the Miami County Jail.
Judge Harth denied probation. In ordering the sentences for marijuana distribution and possession with intent to distribute to run consecutively, the judge cited Hastings’ criminal history and that he had consistently sold drugs to minors, dating back to high school.
She ordered the sentence on the firearm charge to run consecutively. She told Hastings that regardless of who owned the rifle found in the closet of his bedroom where the drug transaction took place, as a convicted felon he should not have had a firearm anywhere in the house.