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Man who represented self gets 201-year sentence
Convicted drug dealer served as own defense attorney during February drug trial in Limestone County

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — A man who represented himself in his drug trial received more than 200 years in prison at his sentencing Tuesday.

Limestone Circuit Court Judge Bob Baker sentenced Joe Daniel Holt Jr., 41, of 23949 Pressnell Road, Athens, with 25 years each on eight counts of distribution of a controlled substance. Those are to run consecutively.

Holt also got a life sentence for trafficking crack cocaine and one year for possessing drug paraphernalia.

Baker fined Holt $10,000 on each distribution count, $50,000 for trafficking and $2,000 for the drug paraphernalia. Baker also ordered Holt to pay court-related restitution.

Authorities arrested Holt in March 2006 during a countywide drug bust. Sheriff Mike Blakely said after the raid that Tony Tipton, a former police officer from Missouri, worked undercover for the department and made 11 drug buys from Holt.

In February, Holt represented himself at trial and based part of his defense on investigators not being able to ascertain what crack cocaine is by looking at it.

Prosecutor Patrick Chesnut showed a DVD recording of Holt selling drugs to an undercover agent. Drug investigators with the Limestone County Sheriff's Department and Athens police said they found drugs in a secret compartment in Holt's closet.

Chesnut also entered into evidence a letter that Holt's sister wrote him while he was in jail that said, "How in the hell did they know where your secret spot was?"

A jury deliberated about an hour and found Holt guilty.

Holt currently is in Bibb Correctional Facility on a receiving stolen property charge.

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