By SARA MITCHELL
Donald Mathis, 23, of El Dorado, was sentenced to 112 years in the Arkansas
Department of Correction after a jury of 12 found him guilty on four counts
involving the selling of drugs in January, 2009, out of the EconoLodge in El
Mathis was offered a plea deal of 25 years in the ADC but turned it down and
instead chose to roll the dice by having a jury trial.
His total sentencing, which is to run consecutively, was 20 years for
possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver (marijuana),
60 years for simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, 20 years for
possession of drug paraphernalia, and 12 years for maintaining a drug
Mathis was arrested along with Gwendolyn Miller on January 15 after they had
been under close observation by the narcotics investigation team of the
Union County Sheriff's Office. After a search warrant was obtained for room
145 at the motel, law enforcement officers found an assortment of drugs and
paraphernalia, along with firearms and a large amount of cash.
Miller pleaded guilty and is already serving a 30-year sentence in the ADC.
She was brought back to the courtroom to testify, wearing a white prison
"A modern day Bonnie and Clyde " is how Deputy Prosecutor Tracy Rothermel
labeled Mathis and Miller, and told the jury that the main purpose of the
motel room was to store and sell narcotics.
Mathis is a drug dealer who carries weapons, Rothermel told the jury, and
pointed out that Miller had told police most of the drugs belonged to
Defense attorney Pat Hall pointed out that none of the buys made in the
motel room involved Mathis, according to testimony by a confidential
informant. Hall also stressed that none of the firearms were registered to
Mathis and that no fingerprints were lifted from the guns to see if Mathis'
prints were present. The motel room was not registered in Mathis' name, Hall
Miller reluctantly testified on the witness stand that the drugs and guns
belonged to both her and Mathis.
"You don't want to be , do you?" Rothermel asked Miller, "and you don't want
to answer any questions, do you?" Miller replied that she did not want to be
in the courtroom.
When Hall asked Miller if her original sentence was 50 years and was reduced
to 30 after she testified against Mathis, Miller replied, "I can't recall."
When Rothermel questioned the hostile witness, Miller said she was getting
no consideration for her testimony.
During the sentencing phase of the trial, evidence was introduced by
Rothermel that showed Mathis had served time in the ADC before for
possession of cocaine and fleeing in a vehicle and causing injury.
"Think about the effect that possessing guns and drugs has on a community,"
Rothermel said to the jury. Mathis did not learn his lesson when he was in
the ADC before," she said.
"I'm not going to ask you for life," Rothermel said. "But if he does gets
life, the only people who will be upset are the defendant and his family."