Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

February 1, 2013

Flesher goes to jail, but avoids prison

Steve Woodhouse

Knoxville — Brandon Taylor Flesher, 23, is spending the next 30 days in the Marion County Jail for one charge, but is tentatively avoiding five years in a state prison for another. 

Flesher pled guilty to third-degree burglary and driving while suspended on Dec. 14, 2012. He was sentenced on both counts this morning. 

Flesher's plea agreement with Marion County Attorney Ed Bull indicated that if a presentence investigator recommended Flesher be sent to Fort Des Moines for treatment, the State would recommend that sentence. However, that is not what was recommended.

As a result, Bull, on behalf of the State of Iowa, recommended five years in prison for the burglary count. Bull said the recommendation was based on the fact that Flesher has 10 adult convictions on his record, excluding his juvenile record. 

"I'm just talking about his adult history," Bull said. "The State believes it has no other recommendation than to incarcerate." 

Due to his criminal history, Flesher owed approximately $13,000 to the State, prior to today's hearing, in court costs, fines, etc. Judge Brad McCall questioned Flesher about his finances, and it was also revealed that he is 20 months behind on his $50 a month child support payments. 

"I know I made a lot of mistakes," Flesher said. His attorney, Cindy Lang, said that when the plea agreement was reached that the state would recommend a sentence to Fort Des Moines. She said it is clear he has a criminal history, and that the Department of Corrections was aware of that when probation was recommended. Presentence investigation reports are not public documents and what it says could not be confirmed. 

Lang added that Flesher's employer calls him a good, hard worker. Flesher was working construction in Davenport during the week, though he did not work this week. According to the court, he earned $22,000 in 2012. 

"Are you serious about supporting your child?" McCall asked Flesher. Flesher said he has been busy trying to pay household bills.

McCall was also concerned about the fact that six of Flesher's prior convictions were alcohol-related. Flesher does not believe he has an alcohol problem. 

Considering his age, criminal record, employment, his status as a father and the nature of his offense, McCall sentenced Flesher to five years in prison on the burglary charge. This was suspended and he is on probation for five years. Flesher was ordered to pay a $125 law enforcement fee, provide a DNA sample and abstain entirely from alcohol. Flesher must stay out of alcohol-serving establishments and will be fitted with a bracelet to track his blood alcohol content. 

On the charge of driving while suspended, Flesher was fined $250 plus a 35 percent surchrage, ordered to pay court costs and sentenced to 30 days in the Marion County Jail. Flesher was handcuffed and taken to the jail following the hearing. 

"Mr. Flesher, it is time for you to get serious," McCall told him. He added that if Flesher did not, the defendant would be guaranteed to be going to prison. McCall told him he has an obligation to care for his child. 

"I hope that you will live up to those responsibilities," McCall said.

Bull was disappointed in the judge's decision to suspend the prison sentence.

"We respect, but disagree," he said. Bull added that given Flesher's criminal history, incarceration was warranted. Bull said Flesher has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to be a productive member of society.