CHRISTIANSBURG — Roy David Cox walked slowly to the witness stand last week, toting a tank of oxygen connected to the cannula beneath his nose. Speaking quietly and sounding out of breath, Cox said that he’d been a methamphetamine user, not a dealer, and that addiction ruined his life.
“It’s cost me dearly,” Cox said during his hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court, where he was one of the last defendants to be sentenced in the Icy Roads meth distribution case. “Some of it I just can’t get back.”
Cox, 52, of Christiansburg, was among 30 people arrested for having some part in a meth pipeline that ran from Georgia to the New River Valley. Prosecutors have said that Cox let Thomas George Belcher Jr., the principal figure in Icy Roads, sell meth at his mobile home. Belcher, 47, of Elliston, has been sentenced to serve 15 years in prison.
In April, Cox made Alford pleas to charges of conspiring to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance and distributing a Schedule II substance. In an Alford plea, a defendant maintains his or her innocence but admits there is enough evidence to win a conviction.
On Tuesday, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Obenshain recommended a significant prison sentence and defense attorney Dave Rhodes of Christiansburg asked for a punishment that did not involve prison time.
Judge Robert Turk sentenced Cox to two five-year prison terms, then suspended all of the incarceration. Cox will be supervised by the probation office for four years, Turk ordered.
Testifying Tuesday, Cox insisted that he had not sold drugs himself and described feeling overwhelmed by all the people who came to buy from Belcher and others.
“No matter how much I tried to run them off, more came. I finally just threw my hands up,” Cox said.
Cox admitted that he’d known much of what was going on, and that he obtained meth from Belcher.
Cox said his own drug use began as a teen and continued until the last few years, when he said that he quit. Asked by Judge Robert Turk about his health problems, Cox said that he and his doctor thought drugs, along with smoking and workplace dust and fumes, contributed to a terminal hardening of the lungs.
“I have a hole in my lung you could slide a cigarette through without getting it bloody,” Cox told the judge.
But Cox said his biggest regret came from seeing his daughter going through drug problems. It made him think more about the effects of the drug scene that he had been part of, he said.
“I am truly sorry for my behavior … I caused a lot of destruction for myself and my community,” Cox said.
Turk said that he was satisfied that Cox had expressed remorse for his involvement with drugs.
“Life throws us curve balls,” the judge said. For Cox to watch his own daughter starting into the patterns that had so affected his own life “would be hard for any person to take,” Turk added.