Just when it seemed that every excuse for crime and purported remorse had been used in a courtroom, a man named Jeremy Ezell Mullinax strode into a Moss Justice Center courtroom in York on Tuesday.
He shuffled, really, because he wore enough chains to lock up every gate at Yankee Stadium.
Mullinax, 27, has been in and out of jails and prisons for at least the past seven years on charges and multiple convictions of stealing, burglary, financial card fraud, weapons charges, and more. In court, his lawyer called him a “drug addict” who was “desperate for money.”
Yet his lawyer said Tuesday that Mullinax was sorry he was in jail less than a month ago when his grandfather was shot in a home invasion. The grandfather is named Wayne Whiteside, a Vietnam War combat veteran who survived the plot to rob and kill him.
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Three people were arrested on attempted murder and other charges, including Whiteside’s own granddaughter, Kaylan Whiteside. Kaylan Whiteside, 21, is Jerry Ezell Mullinax’s first cousin.
The allegation in that crime involves drugs, same as in Jerry Mullinax’s crimes.
“He’s sorry he wasn’t able to be there for his grandfather,” said his defense lawyer, Deputy Public Defender B.J Barrwoclough.
Barrowclough told that to Circuit Court John C. Hayes III, who is one of at least four judges to hear Mullinax plead guilty to crimes during the past seven years.
In his latest criminal escapade, Mullinax stole almost everything that wasn’t nailed down west of York. Starting on June 2, he committed 11 instances breaking and entering for stealing cars and trucks, even the tools in the trucks. He had two petty larcenies thrown in along with a grand larceny after a lady’s 2006 Hummer truck was stolen.
Assistant Solicitor Hannah Grove said in court that at least three victims had taken cellphone pictures and videos of Mullinax stealing the vehicles. When cops finally found Mullinax, near the tiny western York County town of Smyrna, Mullinax drove at speeds close to 100 mph to avoid arrest, stashed the car, then fled, police said.
At the same time in early June, Mullinax was a client in what is called “drug court.” It is a court where drug users get a shot at redemption. Those caught abusing drugs can plead guilty, clean up, get tested, go through counseling, and change. In the cases that landed him in drug court, Mullinax had stolen a bunch of stuff for drugs, too. He was sentenced to prison but was told the sentence would go away if he stayed clean.
He came up a bit short.
Still, Mullinax decided on June 5 to take a chance and show up for drug court so he would not be guilty of missing court. He arrived, and officers told him he was on time. Great job, Mullinax was told.
Then about four burly deputies told him to put his hands behind his back because he was under arrest for the thefts that occurred days before. He went to jail and has been there ever since, including on Aug. 23, when his grandfather was shot and left for dead.
Police talked to a witness who confirmed that Mullinax went to drug court that night, leaving three pistols in the car, to tell a judge and court officials that he was clean and not committing any crimes and was going to live a straight life.
On Tuesday, nobody appeared in court on Mullinax’s behalf except his lawyer. His grandfather is recovering from the shooting. His cousin is in jail, without bond. The cousins were in the same jail.
Despite all this, Mullinax told Judge Hayes that he learned “a lot about life” in drug court.
“My eyes were opened,” Mullinax said of what he learned in drug court.
Then Mullinax said of his latest crimes: “I was wrong, no ifs, ands or buts about it.”
Hayes then accepted Mullinax’s 15 felony guilty pleas from the crime spree and sent Mullinax to prison for nine years.
Mullinax never did get the chance to see his grandfather, the war veteran with the bullet wound in his gut from drug crimes.