Pubdate: Thu, 10 Oct 2002
Source: News Leader, The (VA)
Copyright: 2002 News Leader
Author: Brad Zinn
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Youth)


STAUNTON -- A Staunton man facing a mandatory 10 years behind bars for 
giving a 17-year-old boy one puff of marijuana saw his prison term sliced 
to two years Wednesday by Augusta County Circuit Judge Thomas H. Wood.

In March, a jury found Lynn Dell Phillips, 42, guilty of distributing 
marijuana to a juvenile more than three years his junior, but refused to 
sentence him to the minimum-mandatory 10 years in prison.

Wednesday, Augusta County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Rupen Shah 
asked Wood to suspend eight years of the minimum-mandatory 10-year prison 
term. Public Defender Peter Boatner agreed with Shah's recommendation, but 
balked at a suggested eight years of probation for his client.

Wood gave Phillips the minimum two years -- Virginia law precludes the 
judge from going any lower on the sentence -- and placed him on four years 

According to testimony, Phillips attended his oldest son's Stuarts Draft 
High School graduation ceremony at Expoland, June 6, 2001. When he stepped 
outside to cool off, Phillips testified during his trial that he came upon 
a group that included adults and juveniles, some who were friends of his son.

A Virginia state trooper on patrol that evening told the jury he saw 
Phillips hand a brass pipe to a 17-year-old boy. When the trooper 
approached the group, he said Phillips grabbed the pipe and tossed it 
underneath a vehicle. Tests conducted by the state forensics lab in Roanoke 
later confirmed the pipe contained marijuana.

Phillips, jailed since July 1, maintains he asked the group for a cigarette 
and claims he didn't know marijuana was being smoked. After lighting a 
cigarette received from the teen, Phillips said he realized it was a 
menthol and gave it back to the juvenile.

No witnesses were called to corroborate Phillips' version of the events.
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