Dacotah Wren Clark, 27, has spent the majority of his adult life in prison. He was released from his second stint, a five-year sentence, a year and a half ago. He has since spat on the court, literally and figuratively, and now faces a minimum of 15 years in prison when he is sentenced either on Dec. 21 or early next year, though just weeks ago his sentence could have been limited to 30 months.
On Oct 10, he had appeared before the court to give a plea on four drug-related charges, one of them a first degree felony. The defense and the prosecution had negotiated the 30-month prison sentence. He was about to be sentenced. But he asked for a sentencing date in November to get his affairs in order. Perkins granted the request. Clarke walked out of Courtroom 401. But he didn’t do so civilly.
“When you left the courtroom, you slammed the door to the point that it startled some of the other people that were in the courtroom,” Perkins told him as Clarke again stood before him on Monday, this time in the Flagler County jail’s bright orange garb, hands and feet chained. “Frankly it was discourteous to the other people that were here. And so I call you back and I indicated to you that I thought it was discourteous, that I thought I had treated fairly, that I didn’t do anything that would warrant that type of conduct or behavior towards the court. I was simply following what you had agreed to do. And even then I declined to impose any additional sentence or sanctions. I just said, let’s not do this, come back when you’re set for your sentencing which was, I believe, a few months later.”
That October 10, Clarke walked out again. He didn’t slam the door that time. “Then it was brought to my attention subsequently that after that,” Perkins continued, “you then went into the elevator after you left the courtroom, where you deliberately and quite forcefully, frankly, would spit on the control column of the control box of the elevator, ok? So you’re here so I can determine what to do next.”
Clarke on Monday was before Perkins on an order to show cause in a contempt hearing, giving him a chance to dispute what the judge had just told him.
“This is a circumstance where I personally observed most of what I just relayed to you,” Perkins told him. “The only thing I didn’t see was I wasn’t riding the elevator with you. But as you probably now know, there’s surveillance cameras all over this building including the elevator. And you were caught right on the surveillance camera. So, do you dispute anything that I’ve just relayed.”
Clark, standing next to Assistant Public Defender Regina Nunnally, said he did not.
The door-slamming and spitting in the elevator were not the reason he had been jailed again. Just 10 days after the courtroom and elevator incident, Clarke was again arrested, this time on 12 new charges, 10 of them felonies, two of them first and six of them second-degree felonies–a more figurative spitting in the court’s face as he was on pre-trial release.
He had been a passenger in a car driven by Hannah Albright, who faces almost the same set of 12 charges, including fleeing and eluding A deputy was attempting a traffic stop initiated, somewhat dubiously, by a tag light that “failed to fully illuminate the tag from 50 feet,” according to the arrest report. But once the deputy activated lights and, briefly, a siren. Albright continued driving, and at one point a gray object flew out of a window on the passenger side. Then Albright stopped the car. It was 20 seconds between the time the deputy activated emergency lights and the time Albright stopped.
She denied that anything was thrown. Deputies found a pouch with two pipes commonly used to smoke narcotics, and different amounts of different drugs, including meth, fentanyl, cocaine and other drugs. In the car deputies found an 8.5-inch fixed-blade knife, illegal for either Clarke or Albright to possess as they are both convicted felons.
They both asked for lawyers while on the side of the road, and 12 minutes into the traffic stop, as they were sitting in a patrol car, talking about how to handle the bag issue, Albright is heard telling Clarke, “They cannot ask us any more questions. Just play it right. Now shut the fuck up. They are listening.”
Clarke’s bond of $38,500 was revoked and he was returned to the jail, setting up Monday’s hearing. Perkins could have sentenced him on the earlier charges and his plea stemming from those charges, to the 30 months Clarke had agreed to. But he decided to bundle both cases and issue one sentence, eventually. The door-slamming and spitting incidents are unlikely to play no role in the judge’s decision.
“We’re going to be asking for consecutive sentences, and he does qualify as a habitual violent felony offender,” Assistant State Attorney Tara Libby told the judge. “So if it winds up going that route, being that there’s a first degree felony, there is a 15-year minimum mandatory.” If the sentences are consecutive, Clark would end up with a 15-year sentence plus 30 months, or 17 and a half years.
The judge deferred sentence until the second case is processed. A December 21 pre-trial is scheduled on the new case, with the possibility that both cases will be disposed of on that day. If not, the cases would resolve early next year.