GOSHEN — An Elkhart man received a 16-year sentence Thursday after pleading guilty to dealing meth.
Shaun Mutchler, 39, admitted to the Level 2 felony charge just as his jury trial was about to begin on Nov. 4. He was arrested on Jan. 6, 2017, after police found a quantity of crystal meth, marijuana and drug paraphernalia in an Ash Road residence while checking on the welfare of a 9-year-old girl who didn’t show up at school.
Circuit Court Judge Michael Christofeno sentenced Mutchler to the maximum time allowed under his plea agreement. The sentence will be served consecutive to time remaining on a federal drug conviction and a conviction in Cass County, Michigan.
In arguing for imposing the full sentence, Deputy Elkhart County Prosecutor Katelan Doyle said Mutchler’s willingness to take responsibility was tempered by the fact that he did so only after an entire jury was called up. She said he also continued to facilitate drug deals from behind bars.
Mutchler’s attorney, Arvil Howe, had asked for a split sentence that included only five years in the Indiana Department of Corrections. Another five years would be spent in a community corrections program and the last six years would be served on probation.
Mutchler told the judge about his work history, which included jobs with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Department of Corrections and Marine engineers, to show what he could accomplish before his addiction took over his life. He said he found religion while in prison, in addition to earning a GED and pursuing an associate degree in business.
He hopes to be a motivational speaker after he gets out of prison and help other addicts.
Christofeno told Mutchler he deserves credit for what he had done but said what he really wants to hear is that he’s been off drugs for longer than two years and no longer poses the risk he does now.
“You are to be commended for some of what you’ve accomplished. ... You took your time and it’s been a tortured road,” Christofeno said. “But I’ll be much more interested in what you accomplish going forward.”