As Deborah Meeds watched her son sentenced to prison again, she wondered Wednesday if she made the right decision by turning him in to police years ago.
Her 911 call in 2002 led to one of Shane Sweetman’s first prison stints, after she found out about a methamphetmine lab he was running.
She was trying to be a good parent by getting him away from meth, and a good citizen by reporting crime.
But after a string of recent burglaries in East Pierce County in which 34-year-old Sweetman stole a series of vehicles and pilfered storage units, Meeds said it’s clear he didn’t get the help behind bars he needed for his addiction.
“What you know of my son is on paper, and it’s ugly,” she told Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stanley Rumbaugh on Wednesday.
Rumbaugh sentenced Sweetman to a mid-range sentence of nine years, two months, after his pleas of guilty to two counts of first-degree possession of stolen property, 13 counts of possession of a stolen vehicle and one count of first-degree trafficking stolen property.
He also pleaded guilty to one count of making or possessing motor vehicle theft tools, one count of second-degree burglary, and one of first-degree unlawful gun possession.
Sweetman had 10 felony convictions before this year. He posted bail several times as his 2016 crime spree progressed, and each time he was out he committed new crimes.
Before this year, Meeds told the court, Sweetman was doing great after his last release from prison. He picked up mechanic skills behind bars, got a job, became a supervisor, bought a house, got married and has a 2-month-old daughter.
He was working more than 80 hours a week, though, she said, and started taking meth again, thinking it would help him get through.
“The addiction’s still there,” she said. “... Please, be a little lenient, but make sure he gets the help he needs.”
One of his victims, Mary Morris, told the judge: “It appears that he’s not going to change his pattern, no matter how many crimes he commits.”
She said it was almost exactly a year ago that Sweetman took her $20,000 trailer. Her two young sons were afraid to walk to the school bus in the dark after the theft.
Sweetman said he couldn’t explain what caused the behavior.
“I struggle, and when it gets hard, this happens,” he told Rumbaugh. “And I wish I knew why.”
He’s going to spend his time in prison trying to figure that out, he said.
Sweetman said he felt horrible for what he did, and that he was disappointed in himself.
And he had a message for his mom.
“You didn’t do wrong when you turned me in,” he said.
Then his family, including his newborn, left the courtroom, hoping that this time he gets the help that he needs.