Denzel Copen

Denzel Copen sits in Marion County Circuit Court Thursday for his sentencing.

FAIRMONT — An ailing 67-year-old Fairview man who entered a Marion County courtroom Thursday in a wheelchair won’t have to serve time in a state prison.

Marion County Judge Patrick N. Wilson sentenced Denzel Eugene Copen of 4390 Daybrook Rd., Fairview, to home confinement with electronic lockdown in an afternoon hearing.

Home confinement is an alternative to serving time in a state prison. In total, Copen could have served up to 35 years incarceration on five consecutive sentences.

These included a sentence of no less than one year and no more than five years for count one of possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, a sentence of no less than one year and no more than 15 years on count two of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, a sentence of no less than one year and no more than five years on count three of conspiracy to commit a felony, a sentence of no less than one year and no more than five years on count four of child neglect creating risk of injury and another sentence of no less than one year and no more than five years on count five of child neglect creating risk of injury.

The judge took into consideration Copen’s health issues and his minor criminal history in deciding the sentence.

“My recommendation was for incarceration, but I had recommended some of the sentences concurrent, some consecutive,” said Marion County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney JT Hodges. “The judge in this case made all of those sentences consecutive, which I think reflects the severity of the defendant’s actions. I think that the judge took into consideration the defendant’s prior criminal history and his health and his advanced age.”

“I get where the judge is coming from, and I respect the judge’s decision,” he said.

Last year, a three-month investigation by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office found evidence showing Denzel Copen and his wife, Tracy Nicole Copen sold drugs multiple times to a confidential informant. They were arrested June 21, 2019.

Describing one incident, the complaint states that Tracy Copen “weighed the methamphetamine and gave it to Denzel Copen to sell to a confidential source.”

According to Hodges, Tracy Copen received probation for her offenses because she was going to cooperate in the prosecution against her husband. Hodges said Tracy Copen, who was 38 years old at the time of her arrest, stated that Denzel Copen married her to “keep her quiet.” Hodges said Tracy Copen knew about Denzel Copen’s drug operation and his contacts with people who traveled out of state and brought back controlled substances.

According to the court papers, the investigation started April 14 and continued on an intermittent basis throughout June, leading up to the couple’s arrest.

The criminal complaint states that “deputies located a plate lying on the bedroom floor with a line of methamphetamine on it within easy reach of the two young children who were walking around in the bedroom with Tracy Copen. The ease of access to this controlled substance placed these children in a substantial risk of serious bodily injury…One child had severe autism.” Hodges said the couple were babysitting the children.

Deputies said in a separate criminal complaint that a search warrant was served at Denzel Copen’s residence April 23. The drugs seized had a street value of $10,250.

Denzel Copen’s attorney, Stevie McDonald, said Copen has from heart, stomach and foot trouble and additional ailments, which she said would result in him being best served outside of prison.

A part of the notice of his post-conviction rights, Denzel Copen was told that in 120 days of his sentencing, he can file a motion for reconsideration in which he could ask for his sentences to be reorganized or that he receive probation.

Reach Eric Hrin at (304) 367-2549.

Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549, or ehrin@timeswv.com.

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