Jury recommends 20 years for local man in drug-related case

James Bradley Townsend

A Pulaski County jury is recommending a 20-year sentence for a local man they convicted Tuesday of drug-related charges.

James Bradley Townsend, 50, of Somerset, was convicted of Complicity to Trafficking in Methamphetamine and Oxycodone at the conclusion of a two-day trial which began on Monday, according to a news release from the office of Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy F. Montgomery.

Townsend was indicted in May of last year by a local grand jury in connection to a December 21, 2017, incident in the Bend of Lake Shores area when Somerset Police and the Pulaski county Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant on Townsend's residence -- locating methamphetamine, oxycodone and cash.

According to Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Neal Tucker, who prosecuted the case, evidence was introduced through the testimony of Captain Roger Estep and Sergeant Sean Dobbs that Samantha Keith was trafficking drugs from Townsend's home. The officers further testified that when they executed the search warrant, they discovered approximately 11 grams of methamphetamine in various bags, Oxycodone pills and cash.

A pivotal moment in the trial came when Tucker called Keith, Townsend's co-defendant to the stand. During her testimony, Keith tried to take full responsibility for all the drugs inside the house. However, Tucker introduced a recorded phone call from the Pulaski County Detention Center where Keith called Townsend -- telling him she was mad because she didn't know the pills were oxycodone. The prosecutor was able to illustrate that Keith was lying about the drugs belonging solely to her and elicited testimony that she was using Townsend's house to traffic drugs and then sharing the proceeds with him.

Keith, incidentally, is currently serving three years after pleading guilty last November to two counts of first-degree Trafficking in a Controlled Substance. The 27-year-old is scheduled to become eligible for parole this September.

During the second day of Townsend's trial, the jury on Tuesday heard closing arguments from defense attorney Dan Thompson as well as Tucker. After deliberating for about an hour, jurors found Townsend guilty of Complicity to Trafficking in Methamphetamine and Complicity to Trafficking in Oxycodone. During the penalty phase of trial, Tucker introduced evidence of Townsend's numerous felony drug convictions -- prompting the jury to also convict Townsend of being a persistent felony offender in the first-degree and ultimately recommend he serve 20 years in prison.

Pulaski Circuit Judge Jeffrey Burdette scheduled Townsend's sentencing hearing for July 18.

"I would like to thank the Somerset Police Department and Pulaski County Sheriff's Department for their work," Tucker stated. "I would also like to thank the jury who sat during the trial and I believe they rendered a just verdict and sentence after hearing the evidence presented at trial."