Prison time stayed on third-degree murder guilty plea

Prison time has been stayed by an Anoka County District Court judge for a man who pleaded guilty to a third-degree murder charge for causing the death of a Coon Rapids woman by giving her a controlled substance, specifically morphine.

At sentencing June 12, Judge Douglas Meslow stayed a 103-month prison term for Jerry Lynn McCleskey, 60, Brooklyn Center, who entered his guilty plea to the felony count April 3, and placed him on probation for 25 years.

But Meslow ordered McCleskey to serve 365 days in the county jail, with credit for 24 days served, and perform 40 hours of community service work each year of his probation.

Probation conditions include no assaulting, abusive or disorderly behavior, complete and provide proof of treatment and after care, submit to random urinalysis and breath tests on demand at his own expense, submit a DNA sample, no use of mood-altering chemicals, no use or possession of firearms and take medications in prescribed dosage and frequency.

Meslow’s sentence was a dispositional departure from sentencing guidelines, which had been requested by defense attorney Brad Zunker.

In a document supporting the dispositional departure, Jenilee Rowley, dispositional adviser for the 10th Judicial District’s Public Defender Office, wrote that McCleskey made an “irresponsibly reckless choice in providing his prescription medication to the victim that ended in tragedy,” but since then he has enrolled in Metro New Hope Center, maintained sobriety, has sought out employment with Twin Cities Rise “and is now aspiring to educate others in the community.”

McCleskey has coped with the victim’s death “by taking his life on a new path,” rather that turning to substance abuse and other criminal behavior, according to Rowley.

The Anoka County Attorney’s Office filed the third-degree murder charge against McCleskey May 28, 2013, following an investigation into the death of a woman at an address on the 10300 block of Butternut Street Northwest, Coon Rapids, on Aug. 26, 2012.

McCleskey made a 911 call to Coon Rapids Police Aug. 26, 2012, telling officers he had spent the night with the woman at her residence because she was not feeling well and when he awoke in the morning, he found her unresponsive. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police located three pills on a table next to the woman’s body with the inscription MS30 on them and when interviewed at the scene, McCleskey admitted the pills were his and he had given two of them to the woman the previous evening, plus one the day before and two the day before that.

MS30 is a morphine sulfate, according to online sources.

Interviewed by an investigator, McCleskey’s roommate said McCleskey had called him the morning of Aug. 26, 2012, in a panic stating the woman was cold and dead and when he went to the woman’s home at McCleskey’s request, he found that McCleskey had not called 911, which he told him to do, and McCleskey gave him a prescriptive bottle of pills to take home.

The roommate gave the detective the bottle of pills, which had etchings of MS and 30 on them, and they appeared to be a match for the pills found near the woman’s body, according to the complaint.

In an interview with a detective Aug. 28, 2012, McCleskey admitted giving the woman five pills and watched her take a couple, stating that the woman asked him to bring the pills over Aug. 25, 2012.

The woman’s cellphone records of text messages between her and McCleskey show her asking him if he has any more pills to share with her and him responding that he did and would be over soon.

Toxicology testing performed on the woman at the autopsy shows “a morphine level associated with toxicity as well as a cyclobenzaprine level supratherapeutic,” or,  a muscle relaxant amount above the therapeutic level.

A review of the woman’s prescription history revealed no prescriptions for morphine or cyclobenzaprine, the complaint states.

Court records show that McCleskey has had no previous felony convictions in the state of Minnesota.

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