A 19-year-old in Round Rock is no longer facing the possibility of life in prison for allegedly making marijuana brownies and selling them for $25 each. The case involving Jacob Lavoro attracted national attention. An online petition against the punishment has more than a quarter million signatures.
Williamson County assistant District Attorney Mark Brunner says they decided not to pursue a charge based on the total weight of the brownies to avoid jury "distraction" during a possible trial.
"We just thought it would be clearer and simpler to just go with the hash oil that was found there in the kitchen and had not yet been added to anything else," Brunner says. He says they didn't want to have the jury wondering, "Exactly how much hash oil was in these brownies compared to all the other ingredients that may have been in there?"
The first-degree felony charge that could have yielded a life sentence for Lavoro was based on the total weight of the brownies, including legal ingredients such as flour, water and sugar.
Instead, a Williamson County grand jury last week handed up an indictment on two charges related to possession of 145 grams of hash oil and 16 ounces of marijuana. The hash oil charge is a second-degree felony, which could mean a sentence of 2 to 20 years behind bars or 10 years probation.
Brunner says the Williamson County D.A. has offered Lanovo a plea bargain that would give him probation.
"This is not just a kid experimenting with a tiny little bag of weed and mama's brownie mix," Brunner says. "This is allegedly someone who was trying to run a business off of this."
Supporters of Lavoro are claiming victory, saying the first-degree felony charge was dropped because of their online campaign.
"Due to all of our efforts and the 270,000 signatures on change.org - the DA dropped the most serious charge that included the full weight of the marijuana brownies and their containers," said Robert Butler, who founded the Justice for Jacob Lavoro Facebook page.
"The family and I are very grateful that common sense has prevailed," Lavoro's lawyer Jack Holmes told the Austin-American Statesman.