Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Michigan man gets chance at rehab

Kent Muer sentenced to 90-day Department of Correction treatment program

Express Staff Writer

Kent Joseph Muer

A former Blaine County man, charged with eight different crimes in 2011, will get a chance at drug and alcohol rehabilitation following sentencing Monday in Blaine County 5th District Court.

Kent Joseph Muer, 35, who moved to Michigan from Blaine County, still faces incarceration in the hands of the Idaho Department of Correction. Judge Robert J. Elgee retained jurisdiction in the case, and is recommending to the Department of Correction that Muer be placed in the agency's 90-day alcohol and drug rehabilitation program.

Elgee noted that if rehabilitation fails, Muer can still be sent to prison. He was given a nine-year suspended sentence at Monday's hearing.

Muer, who was free on $70,000 bond, was placed in handcuffs and taken into custody at the conclusion of the hearing.

The sentence included felony convictions of possession of marijuana and malicious injury to property and misdemeanor convictions of domestic battery and DUI. In exchange for his pleading guilty to those four crimes in January, the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office agreed to dismiss four other criminal charges, including a felony count of grand theft, a second misdemeanor DUI count and misdemeanor counts of unlawful entry and operating a vehicle without the owner's consent.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback discussed Muer's crimes at Monday's hearing.

"This is the worst-case scenario when you lose control," Fredback said, noting that Muer was first arrested by Hailey police on Jan. 11, 2011, and charged with felony possession of marijuana for having close to a pound of the drug and for misdemeanor DUI for having a blood-alcohol level of 1.76, nearly twice the legal driving limit in Idaho of .08.

Muer's troubles escalated on Aug. 4-5 last year when he was charged with six other crimes, first for battering his girlfriend where the couple was staying in the Gimlet area.


"Overnight, he somehow breaks into one house in Gimlet and basically trashes the place," Fredback said, noting also that Muer stole a computer and an air rifle. "Then he jumps on someone else's John Deer Gator and he's cruising drunk through the neighborhood.

"There's no question he's got substance-abuse issues, and he's putting other people at risk."

Hailey attorney Doug Nelson said his client, who lives on an inheritance, has had a troubled life that started when he lived in Florida and lost his parents at sea at the age of 15.

"Not a scrap of clothing, not a piece of the boat, not anything was ever found," Nelson said.

Nelson asked for leniency for his client but acknowledged that Muer is in need of drug and alcohol treatment.

"Maybe he'll be able to look back in a few years and say this is the best thing that ever happened for him," Nelson said.

Muer apologized to the court for "all the turmoil I've caused."

"A lot of this probably stems from the loss of my parents when I was 15 years old," he said. "My life was turned upside down.

"The only thing I've learned from this is humility. I can't believe that I'm here today. I never though I'd get to this low point in my life.

"If drugs and alcohol weren't in my life, I'd be a completely different person."

Terry Smith:

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