A man prosecutors say is a career cocaine dealer escaped conviction on charges that could have landed him in prison for most of his life as jurors chose to find him guilty on simple possession charges.
While Jimmy Tyrone Wilkerson, 40, faces sentencing for his misdemeanor conviction, he still isn’t out of the woods. He faces potential trial on a separate charge of drug trafficking, a charge that if convicted could cost him 40 years in prison given his prior record.
His first hurdle at spending what would amount to a lifetime behind bars was cleared recently when jurors refused to convict him on charges of delivery of cocaine. The case was brought against him during a traffic stop last year in which police reported finding white powder residue and digital scales.
A short time thereafter, Wilkerson was searched at the jail before he was placed in the general population. The search yielded three grams of cocaine hidden in his left shoe. The discovery came after police asked him specifically if he had any illegal substance concealed in his shoe.
Although most cases of delivery of drugs carry somewhere between three to 12 years in prison, Wilkerson, due to his long criminal record, was looking at decades behind bars. Prosecutors produced eight prior felony drug convictions, all having to do with trafficking cocaine.
The incidents happened in Warren, Davidson and Morgan counties. Most of his Warren County charges came during the years 1995 and 1996 as he was caught in Operation Rock-It, the largest drug roundup ever in Warren County.
Operation Rock-It targeted large-scale cocaine dealers and their main distributors. Methamphetamine had not yet landed in Warren County in any large amount by that time.
Wilkerson finished serving his sentence for those convictions in 2007 and had since returned to society. His attorney, Bud Sharp, noted he was operating a profitable trucking business at the time of his arrest on his most recent charges.
During trial, Sharp argued the amount of cocaine on his client wasn’t enough to brand him as a drug dealer. Instead, the attorney maintained the cocaine in his client’s shoe was for personal use. The jury believed him, opting to convict Wilkerson on the lesser misdemeanor count which carries a maximum one-year in jail.
It isn’t known if Wilkerson will press his luck with another trial on his separate trafficking charges or if he will opt to see what kind of deal prosecutors may offer him.