Lucas A. Jacobson will spend five years behind bars and then five years on supervised release after his friend died of an overdose of fentanyl-laced opioids Jacobson had supplied.
In a plea and sentencing hearing Wednesday, Rock County Judge John Wood told Jacobson, 24, of Janesville, “you’re not a good risk; you’re a poor risk” after Jacobson pleaded guilty to a count of first-degree reckless homicide by delivery of drugs in the May 27, 2020, death of Walter “Jared” VanKraanen, 22, of Janesville.
Rock County prosecutor Mary Bricco called Jacobson an “addict” and a “drug dealer” for his part in providing Van-Kraanen a deadly batch of heroin laced with fentanyl.
Jacobson’s attorney, Jason Sanders, said he is not convinced that a friend buying drugs and giving them to another friend meets the definition of “drug dealing.”
Wood wasn’t splitting hairs as he sentenced Jacobson to prison.
It will be the fourth time in his young life that Jacobson will have served a prison sentence for drug possession, according to court records.
Wood said he didn’t like that Jacobsen seemed to show little visible remorse during the sentencing, which Jacobson attended from jail via videoconference.
Jacobson told the court in a brief statement that he was ready for whatever decision the court handed down, but otherwise, he showed little visible emotion while on camera Wednesday.
“Maybe that’s because you’re 24 years old, I don’t know. But I would certainly like to see a bit more remorse from someone who took or contributed to the loss of life of another human being,” Wood told Jacobson.
The sentence was significantly less than a 40-year maximum sentence Jacobson could have gotten for the homicide charge, according to court documents.
Wood stuck to the terms of the plea agreement in the sentencing, giving Jacobson five years in state prison and five years of extended supervision, followed by five years of probation for related felony forgery charges.
Jacobson also faced three counts of passing counterfeit $100 bills at local businesses, a crime prosecutors say was tied to a cycle of drug use, addiction and criminal activity.
Wood and Bricco both indicated the plea agreement sped justice in the case and avoided hauling VanKraanen’s family through a jury trial at a time when criminal cases have moved sluggishly through the courts.
To get a conviction in a jury trial on a reckless homicide by drug overdose charge, prosecutors have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the victim actually used the substance delivered by the defendant and died as a result.
That can be difficult threshold for prosecutors to reach, even with evidence.
According to a criminal complaint, the afternoon before he died, VanKraanen had reached out to Jacobson asking to buy drugs.
Authorities believe Jacobson went to Beloit to buy heroin in a car that was too full to fit Van-Kraanen.
Jacobson texted VanKraanen that he had drugs for him and asked to meet at a local gas station, according to the complaint. Records show several phone calls between the two that day, and people who knew VanKraanen said he had previously used heroin with Jacobson.
Later, in jail, a detective listened to a call Jacobson made during which he said he he was praying for “five in, five out,” which likely referred to time in prison and on extended supervision, according to the complaint.
Ultimately, the sentence Monday gave Jacobson was five in and 10 out including the five years of probation tacked on for the counterfeit money charges.
The relative speed at which the case moved through the court system, about one year, and the sentence of five years plus supervision—wasn’t full consolation to one of VanKraanen’s family members.
One woman who said she is a family member of VanKraanen, said in court Wednesday that VanKraanen’s young son asks every day why his father died.
The woman said she would have liked to see a longer prison sentence.
Wood said Jacobson will be about 40 years old before he is clear of the full sentence and parole linked to his friend’s death.
Given his past record for drug offenses, there will be little room now for Jacobson to backslide, Wood said.
“He’s got the keys to prison in his pocket,” Wood said.