Sentencing awaits a Jackson County man who didn’t return to court after state prosecutors laid out their case against him for drug dealing and possession, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.
Court on Thursday (Feb. 18) was suspended for more than an hour to allow Sylva resident Phillip Jordan Andrews, 24, to show. When he didn’t, Jackson County Superior Court Judge Daniel Kuehnert revoked Andrews’ bond for failing to appear.
The case in court proceeded without the defendant. Jury members found Andrews guilty of two counts of trafficking and possession on Aug. 5, 2020, with intent to sell and deliver fentanyl. Officers provided jury members with video surveillance of the drug deal.
Jury members found Andrews not guilty on identical charges from a different date, Aug. 19, 2020.
“Andrews’ conviction is part and parcel of our regionwide crack down on illegal opioid distributors,” Welch said. “Our prosecutors are going after the people responsible for creating and distributing the drugs in Jackson County, as well as Haywood, Macon, Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Swain counties.”
On Aug 5, 2020, Jackson County investigators and SBI agents arranged a controlled “buy” at Andrew’s residence. They seized a plastic bag that contained 6.98 grams of both fentanyl and ANPP, or anilino-N-phenethylpiperidine, a direct precursor to fentanyl.
Once located, Andrews faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 70-93 months in prison on each trafficking charge. He also must pay a mandatory fine of $50,000.
As part of the 43rd Prosecutorial District’s efforts to target major opioid suppliers, in January, two other Jackson County residents also were sentenced to mandatory minimum trafficking charges:
• Whittier resident Robert Mitchell Hoyle, 38, pleaded guilty to trafficking and received the mandatory minimum prison sentence of 70 to 93 months. He also was ordered to pay a mandatory $50,000 fine.
Deputies likely saved Hoyle’s life. Officers conducted a traffic stop after Hoyle, driving on a revoked license on Sept. 11, 2019, ran a red light.
When confronted, he tried to swallow a potentially deadly amount of fentanyl. Following a struggle, deputies were able to force Hoyle to spit out the drug-filled plastic bag.
• Cashiers resident Jeffrey Spencer Green, 49, pleaded guilty to trafficking and received the mandatory minimum prison sentence of 70 to 93 months and the mandatory $50,000 fine.
Green also pleaded to two counts firearm by felon. Those charges were consolidated for sentencing with the trafficking charge.
On Feb. 19, 2020, a deputy stopped Green on Yellow Mountain Road for driving a car with a fictitious registration plate and without insurance.
As a convicted felon, Green is not allowed to possess firearms, but had one in the vehicle. Green then told the deputy he had methamphetamine: He had stuffed two drug-filled containers into his long underwear.
Assistant district attorneys Christina Matheson and Andy Buckner prosecuted the cases.