Stephanie Ann Revel told Circuit Judge Richard “Ric” Howard it was one of the biggest mistakes she ever made.
It was Revel’s birthday on Feb. 28 and her boyfriend gave her $900 to spend from his income tax return.
She spent it on just over 14 grams of methamphetamine, the 34-year-old Crystal River woman explained to Howard during her Thursday morning sentencing hearing.
Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies later seized Revel’s birthday gift and other narcotics during a March 1 traffic stop at the intersection of State Road 44 and Rock Crusher Road.
Revel was also arrested, charged with trafficking in meth, possessing 0.5 grams of heroin and two alprazolam pills.
Instead of standing trial this week, Revel pleaded no contest to her accusations on Monday and opted to leave her fate up to Howard, who could have ordered a punishment of between 3 and 40 years in prison.
“I pray my children learn from my mistakes,” Revel said Thursday, explaining herself to the judge. “I take full responsibility for my actions.”
“Why didn’t you spend it on the kids?” Howard asked Revel, motioning over to her pair of young children sitting in the front row of the courtroom.
Howard sentenced Revel to eight years behind bars, which includes a three-year minimum-mandatory term for trafficking in between 14 and 28 grams of meth.
Beforehand, Howard said the way Revel’s meth was weighed out and packaged evenly in individual baggies was an indication the drugs weren’t for personal use but for dealing, contrary to Revel’s claims.
“Which causes great consternation for me,” the judge said about the evidence presented by Assistant State Attorney Kevin Davis, who asked Howard to sentence Revel to 10 years.
“That’s just how they weighed it,” Revel replied.
Revel’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Luke Waatti, asked Howard to sentence his client to the three years, arguing Revel was remorseful and cooperative with deputies Anthony Amato and Nancy Suto, who testified Thursday to pulling Revel over and searching her.
“She didn't fight the cops, she didn’t run from the scene,” Waatti said.
Waatti added Revel was honest about her issues with drugs, and that she has never been convicted of such a crime before.
“You start somewhere, your honor,” he said.
Howard questioned Revel’s cooperativeness, asking why Revel didn’t give deputies consent to search her car when they stopped her.
Revel’s former employer, a Crystal River chiropractor, told Howard that Revel was a hard worker and dependable.
Howard also read a letter from Revel’s mom, who couldn’t attend Thursday’s hearing, but wrote about Revel’s rough upbringing.
In her emotional statement, Revel turned to her children and recited the Lord’s Prayer to them. She then pleaded with Howard to give her another chance to make the best of her life again.
“I am worth it, and I know I can still turn my life around,” she said. “I truly am ashamed and remorseful.”