Man facing felony DWI charge appears on probation violation

Joseph John West IV
Joseph John West IV

Just four days after appearing in Isanti County District Court to face charges, Joseph John West IV was back in court Jan. 10 for a probation violation hearing.

West, 33, of rural Isanti, appeared before Judge Karla Hancock Jan. 10 for a probation violation as a result of testing positive for amphetamines and methamphetamines in his system.

West first appeared before Hancock Jan. 6 and was charged with felony driving under the influence of a controlled substance; misdemeanors driving after revocation and pharmacy; and petty misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. West posted $125,000 bail with conditions that afternoon, and part of his conditions was to not use or possess alcohol or drugs.

“As the court recalls, the defendant was before the court four days ago,” Isanti County Attorney Jeff Edblad said. “We went over the defendant’s lengthy criminal history. The defendant put on a big show before the court that he needed treatment.”

Edblad explained that the probation department called West several times after his Jan. 6 release at several different phone numbers to have him come in to submit to a base urine analysis, which was part of his conditions of release.

Edblad said probation never heard back from West, and he was found by law enforcement walking along the streets of Cambridge around 1 a.m. Jan. 10.

Edblad explained West used methamphetamines after he posted bail the afternoon of Jan. 6. He said if West had used methamphetamines prior to his initial arrest Jan. 3, the drugs would have been out of his system by the time he submitted to the base urine analysis Jan. 10.

“The defendant was arrested last Friday, Jan. 3,” Edblad said. “Any meth in his system would have been out of his system by the time this test was taken. We are dealing with a defendant with a criminal history that has a presumptive prison commit due to the fact he has a felony criminal vehicular homicide on his record for killing Beth Reichel in 2002.”

Hancock set bail for West at $500,000 without conditions or $250,000 with conditions and be ordered to the Intensive Supervision Program. Hancock also ordered a $5,000 cash performance bond be posted in addition to the bail amounts. West is due back in court Jan. 16.

During the hearing, West said he never received any phone messages left by the probation department and he had been trying to get into a treatment facility.

Hancock said if West posts bail and is released again from jail, his bail will be forfeited if he were to test positive for drugs again.

“You were released four days ago and you didn’t rush into treatment,” Hancock said. “You didn’t leave valid information with the probation department. They had a hard time getting you in here to submit to a drug test, and you used in the time you were released. None of this sits well for public safety.”

West said he hasn’t been portrayed accurately in court or by the media.

“I’m not that bad of a guy,” West said. “I think about that crash and Beth Reichel every day of my life. I’m a drug addict. I’m not what Mr. Edblad makes me out to be. I’m not that much of a public safety risk. I’m a drug addict; I’m sick.”

Hancock disagreed with West’s analysis.

“You are a public safety risk — you’re a high public safety risk,” Hancock said. “When you’re out, and you use and get behind the wheel of a car, you’re dangerous, and that’s been established already.”

Hancock advised West to stay in jail until a bed opens up in a treatment facility. Edblad noted that Isanti County does have reciprocity with Pine County, and Pine County Jail does offer an in-house treatment program that West could apply for.

“I’m sick,” West said. “I’m not doing this to hurt anyone or because I want too; it’s because I’m sick.”

Hancock encouraged West to seek help.

“You did hurt someone and you have an addiction problem,” Hancock said. “We have systems in place to help you and support you.”