He had a chance for a lower prison sentence, but 23-year-old Justin Dean blew it and he blew it big.
Standing before Circuit Court Judge Lisa Dodson on Thursday, he had a hard time explaining why, after only two days, he left the Lucedale rehabilitation center where she sent him to sober up from drugs.
“Just being ignorant,” he told her. Then later, he said, “I did leave rehab because I was too busy chasing drugs.”
Dean, listed as homeless, will be going to prison for a long stretch. He got into a passel of trouble after leaving rehab. Methamphetamine, he said, fueled him while he was free.
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He is charged with burglarizing the Ocean Springs Yacht Club on November 6. Police Sgt. Terry Hines said Dean, a verified member of the Simon City Royals, broke into the Yacht Club through a window but indicated he remembered very little about that night.
On November 16, Dean admitted in court to Dodson, he burglarized Southern Comfort Campground on U.S. 90 in Biloxi. He was there doing laundry, he said.
He took an air conditioning unit out of a window, broke into the office and stole money from the cash register. He didn’t remember what the room looked like or how much money he took, but Dodson informed him it was $170.
Within days, he was arrested in Texas. Deputies were canvassing a neighborhood for a suspected burglar when, they say, they saw Dean running and chased him across a pasture. He is accused of shooting at one of the deputies before they caught him.
While Jefferson County was investigating its case, Dean was returned to Jackson County, where he has been in jail since December 14.
Dodson sentenced Dean to 31 years in prison, with 15 years to serve, for the commercial burglary and two other felonies pending when he went to rehab. He was wearing a bright yellow Jackson County prison jumpsuit. Tattoos framed his face and he had a cross tattooed under his right eye.
As deputies led him out, a slender young woman seated on a court bench blew him a kiss. He kept his head turned toward her as court officers led him out a side door and back to a jail cell.