Describing someone as a “career criminal” is not a term usually aimed at 26-year-olds, but recidivist felon and Tier III sex offender Blake Bratcher was tagged as such this week.
Bratcher, 26, of Baker Street in Warrenville, plead guilty in court Monday to a manufacturing methamphetamine charge.
The crime earned him a five-year suspended sentence, where he must complete three years of probation to avoid prison.
“If you fail on drug test, you are looking at five years,” Circuit Court Judge Doyet A. “Jack” Early told him Monday. “You have the key.”
A middle school class was visiting the court that day and sat in the jury box for the morning’s pleas and motions.
After Bratcher accepted his sentence, he was asked about the addictive and destructive nature of methamphetamine.
“It’s ruined my life,” the 26-year-old said.
Early gave admitted addict Bratcher a chance to redeem himself, something for which the defendant was appreciative.
Bratcher has been a listed sex offender since he was released from prison on a crime he committed when he was 15.
In 2005, Bratcher faced charges for a 2001 sexual assault on a girl younger than 11. Bratcher pleaded guilty to committing a lewd act upon a child and received a 10-year suspended sentence on five years probation.
In February 2006, he was arrested again facing several misdemeanor drug charges and three felony counts related to possession and distribution. Four months later, Bratcher was again accused of a sex crime with a victim, again, being under the age of 11.
In 2007, he was convicted of committing a lewd act on a minor and was sentenced to eight years in prison. His plea deal saw other charges dropped, including the most serious, criminal sexual conduct with a minor under 11.
This year, Bratcher offended again.
On July 22, the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office was called to Bratcher’s home due to a domestic violence claim and suspicion of a methamphetamine lab. When police arrived at his home, there was a domestic incident going on. After calming it down, Bratcher asked an officer to get him a glass of water.
When the deputy entered the home and approached the sink, the manufacturing materials for methamphetamine were right by the sink. Assistant Solicitor Beth Ann Young said that this was the now common plastic soda bottle “shake-and-bake” style meth lab, used for making methamphetamine for personal use.
By the sink, officers found a gas generator, coffee filters, empty blister packs of pseudoephedrine, acid-based camping fuel, drain cleaner and plastic tubing. There was no amount of the drug present.
A representative from the probation office stood at the bar while sentencing took place. He was there to ensure Bratcher’s GPS monitoring device would be reattached once he was released from jail. As a Tier III sex offender, Bratcher must wear the device and register his details as a sex offender every 90 days.