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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Inmate-lawyer knows when to fold his case

David Meckelson won an impressive victory last month when he represented himself in a drug trial, but was taking no more chances Friday.

Instead, he was thinking of a 12-year-old daughter who will be a young woman when he gets out of prison.

“I’m trying to do everything possible to help my daughter so that her life doesn’t turn out like mine,” Meckelson said as he pleaded guilty to bartering for another Spokane County Jail inmate’s prescription pain pills.

Meckelson, 40, abandoned a plan to fight the charge and represent himself again.

“He does not want to risk anything additional,” said Meckelson’s court-appointed attorney, Tim Trageser.

Deputy Prosecutor David Stevens agreed with Trageser that Meckelson’s drug addiction was tragic. Meckelson is “very bright” and articulate, and could easily have had a successful career, Stevens said.

In fact, Trageser said, Meckelson was a successful car salesman 15 years ago.

“It’s so sad,” Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen said.

Just as an occasional jackpot seldom turns a chronic gambler into a net winner, Meckelson remained a big loser despite persuading a jury to acquit him last month of a manufacturing-methamphetamine charge.

The acquittal spared Meckelson up to 10 years in prison, but he had already gambled and lost on two previous meth-making charges. If Meckelson had taken a plea bargain on those counts instead of going to trial, he could have gotten off with two years in prison instead of nearly 15, Trageser said.

This time, he accepted Deputy Prosecutor David Stevens’ offer to recommend a mid-range, one-year sentence and to drop additional charges that could have added at least a year. Stevens agreed not to pursue a bail-jumping charge, and to drop a one-year sentence enhancement for drug crimes within jails.

The enhancement, like the one-year sentence Eitzen handed down Friday, would have been tacked on to the time Meckelson already was facing.

“I don’t feel sorry for myself,” Meckelson said. “Who I truly feel sorry for is my daughter.”

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