Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Friday

July 11, 2014

Judge sentences woman in Garfield Township drug case

TRAVERSE CITY — Connie Lynn Hamilton-Lowe wept as her attorney Philip Settles recounted her struggles with addiction and asked a judge to consider them before crafting a sentence on drug dealing charges.

"I have made a mess of my life," Hamilton-Lowe, 52, said on Friday.

Prosecutors charged Hamilton-Lowe with a long list of felonies on accusations she turned her Garfield Township home into a haven for drug dealers and sold drugs near a school. She cooperated with Traverse Narcotics Team investigators after her May arrest and pleaded guilty to two charges.

Thirteenth Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers gave Hamilton-Lowe a sentence that means she'll serve at least 41 months in prison before she's eligible for release.

Settles asked Rodgers not to impose a mandatory two-year minimum sentence, citing her traumatic childhood, long history with addiction and her testimony against drug dealers who she said "terrified" and assaulted her.

But Rodgers agreed with Grand Traverse County Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Forsyth that although Hamilton-Lowe's help is commendable, her crimes still warranted a "proportionate" sentence.

"There's a lot of bad associations with your addiction," Rodgers told Hamilton-Lowe.

Authorities said David Lafonso Ruff, Jr., 33, and Antoine Eugene Gogins, 29, both dealt drugs from Hamilton-Lowe's Lillian Lane home. Forsyth gave Rodgers a letter from one of Hamilton-Lowe's neighbor who complained about having to live next to a drug house.

Ruff and Gogins both pleaded guilty to felony drug dealing charges. They're scheduled for July 25 sentencing hearings in 13th Circuit Court.

A third suspect, Santonya Rose Winstone, 28, is scheduled for an August trial in 13th Circuit Court.


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