BY KEN LITTLE
Dr. Robert W. Locklear will have another chance to attend a drug rehabilitation facility as he awaits resolution of crack cocaine possession charges filed against him last month.
The 42-year-old Greeneville internist was freed on $80,000 bond after his June 11 arrest on two counts of felony possession of a Schedule II drug, with the understanding that he attend a rehab facility.
But Locklear, whose East Andrew Johnson Highway medical office is now closed, checked himself out of an Alabama rehab facility and was apparently using drugs when picked up by a bail bondsman in a hotel near Birmingham early June 27.
Locklear has been held on no bond since that date in the Greene County Detention Center.
He waived a preliminary hearing scheduled for Monday, and General Sessions Court Judge Kenneth Bailey Jr. set a Sept. 6 Criminal Court appearance date.
SECOND REHAB CHANCE
The main focus of Locklear's Monday court date centered around the efforts of defense lawyers Ronald Chesnut, of Greeneville, and Jerry Fabus Jr., of Johnson City, to persuade Judge Bailey to give their client another try at rehabilitation while awaiting resolution of the drug possession case.
Ritchie Collins, the assistant district attorney general representing the state, was dead-set against the idea, and disagreed with Chesnut's assertion to Bailey that Locklear is a "different person" from the man who was locked up on June 27.
Chesnut said Locklear admitted he has hit "rock bottom" and wants help.
"I don't think 10 days in jail is enough time for anyone to overcome (an addiction). Dr. Locklear had the opportunity to go to a rehab, and he didn't. He threw that opportunity away," Collins said.
Despite the doctor's standing in the community, Locklear "shouldn't be treated any different than anyone else," Collins said.
'NO SPECIAL TREATMENT'
In deciding to allow Locklear to try rehab again, Bailey said he was not singling out the doctor for preferential treatment.
"I'm not giving him any special treatment. I have reinstated bail before for folks to go to treatment," Bailey said.
Bailey said it's not likely a Greene County grand jury will even look at Locklear's case before January.
"He's not going to get any treatment in jail," Bailey said.
ONE LAST CHANCE
Locklear, standing in the jury box with other inmates awaiting court appearances, listened intently as the judge turned to him.
"I'll give you another chance. If you blow that, I will revoke your bond, and you will sit in jail," Bailey said.
Locklear thanked the judge and sat down.
Bailey set special conditions before Locklear can be released. Locklear must go directly from the jail to a drug rehab facility, and adhere to all the rules.
The Alabama rehab Locklear checked out of was too loosely structured, Kerry Emmett, owner of Express Bail Bonds, told Bailey.
'A STRONGER FACILITY'
One of Emmett's employees located Locklear on June 27 and brought him back to Greeneville.
"It was an in-and-out place. It was more of a retreat," said Emmett, who agreed to post bond for Locklear again if he goes to a more structured rehab setting.
"I think they're looking into a stronger facility," Emmett said.
Probation officials will research appropriate rehab facilities and must approve one before Locklear is sent there.
Upon completion of treatment, Locklear will remain free on bond but "be subject to alcohol and drug testing in the community," Bailey said.
Fabus said at Locklear's June 28 court appearance that his client had checked out of Bradford Health Services in Warrior, Ala., while awaiting admission into another rehab facility in North Carolina.
Locklear tested positive for cocaine after being taken into custody on June 27.
On June 5, sheriff's deputies answered a domestic disturbance call at the Be Happy Apartments, 3425 Snapps Ferry Road.
Third Judicial District Drug Task Force agents were contacted and found crack cocaine in an apartment bathroom laundry basket, a report by a Drug Task Force agent said.
On June 11, Greeneville police received a complaint from the clerk at the Comfort Inn, at 1790 E. Andrew Johnson Hwy.
The clerk told officers that "a large amount of short-stay traffic" was taking place in a room registered to Locklear, adding she was suspicious of drug activity.
Locklear was placed under arrest in connection with the June 5 incident.
Police said about 6.4 grams of crack cocaine were found in Locklear's trousers pocket during a search at the Comfort Inn, leading to the second drug possession charge.
Locklear had been in private practice since February 2012.
He was affiliated for several years with Takoma Medical Associates before opening his own practice, but has no current affiliation with the hospital system.