VALPARAISO | Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford echoed the words of a prosecutor Monday when he told Dale Sterling Jr. he was tired of seeing him in court.
Yet Bradford decided to give the 44-year-old Liberty Township man another chance and released him after nearly nine months in jail rather than sentencing him to prison for his third probation violation stemming from an armed standoff with police in 2003.
Bradford ordered Sterling to attend at least one 12-step meeting each week for the next year and vowed if he again violates his probation, he will serve out the balance of the prison term from his original conviction.
Sterling admitted to violating his probation a third time by being arrested by Highland police in September on a charge of possessing a controlled substance. Earlier violations involved alcohol and wrecking a vehicle, following an earlier incident of drunken driving.
Sterling's mother -- a longtime county official and employee -- told the court Monday her son was doing fine until he underwent a second hip replacement surgery in 2009. Jacquelyn Sterling said her son was given narcotic painkillers despite her warning doctors of his struggles with addiction.
He has regained his sobriety since being in jail, she said.
"He seems to be like his old self when he wasn't on the narcotics," Sterling said.
Bradford said he was unsure how to address Sterling's substance abuse problems.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost said he has prosecuted Sterling for half his professional career.
While telling the judge Sterling has proven himself unable to comply with the rules of probation, Frost did not make any recommendations about sentencing.
Bradford had sentenced Sterling in September 2005 to 10 years in prison with another eight years of formal probation on his original charges. The judge released Sterling after he served two years, citing good behavior while behind bars.
That original case stemmed from Sterling threatening to kill himself and firing a gun at his parents' Liberty Township home May 5, 2003, before leading authorities on a chase. The chase ended along Ind. 149 south of County Road 1050 North when Sterling climbed on top of his van with a gun and was shot in the side by Portage police Sgt. Michael Vaughan.