3rd strike conviction results in life sentence for self-lawyered defendant


A defendant who elected to represent himself in court last week was sentenced to life in prison after a Fayette County jury found him guilty of trafficking in cocaine.

Sanyo Walter McGee had two prior felony drug convictions, so he was sentenced as a repeat offender by Fayette County Superior Court Judge Fletcher Sams, meaning McGee will have to serve every day of his life sentence, said Fayette County Assistant District Attorney David Younker.

McGee was arrested in October 2009 as part of an undercover drug purchase conducted by the Tactical Narcotics Team of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office. McGee was not involved in the handing over of the drugs, but he watched the transaction from another location, Younker said.

McGee’s two previous convictions were for selling cocaine and for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, Younker said.

Although McGee elected to represent himself, Judge Sams had his public defender attorney remain in the courtroom and sit behind him the entire trial so he could have the chance to be represented even in the middle of the trial if he so elected, Younker said.

McGee did not, however, opt to use the public defender’s services and instead chose to represent himself. He also declined to present a closing argument to the jury, Younker said.

McGee following his arrest told TNT agents that he was there “to protect my boy,” Younker noted.

He noted that in many cases undercover TNT agents are putting their lives on the line, and drug deals have become “more serious” to the point where more dealers are using “protection” with a second party who is located in a second vehicle.

Younker said that because of TNT’s work, prosecutors are hearing more and more that drug dealers don’t want to do business in Fayette County.

The defendant who was involved in the transaction itself is expected to be tried in January, Younker said.