Former University of Utah fullback Martel Black was scheduled to be married Saturday and have a brief respite from custody over the weekend. Instead, he's spending the day - and perhaps many more - - behind bars.
Black pleaded guilty Oct. 18 to two federal cocaine charges, as did his friend, Samuel A. Simmons. He faces a minimum of five years in prison.Pending sentencing, set for Jan. 3, U.S. District Judge David K. Winder ordered Black to remain at the community treatment center. He was given a "school release," allowing him to continue attending the university so he could finish the present academic quarter.
Earlier this week, Winder said he could be released from the halfway house from Friday afternoon through Sunday, as he and his fiancee intended to be married Saturday.
Also, Winder said he would be released on Christmas so he could be with his family during the holiday.
But on Thursday, the results of a urine sample taken Nov. 16 at the Community Treatment Center came back from a laboratory - and it showed traces of THC, the chemically active ingredient in marijuana. It was a sample taken on a random basis.
Winder immediately ordered Black taken to Salt Lake City Jail and scheduled a hearing.
At the hearing Friday, Black claimed the THC must have remained in his system for six weeks, because he had not smoked the illegal herb for that long.
He confessed that once he smoked marijuana daily, but said he stopped around the third week of this quarter. That was before his guilty plea.
The director of the Community Treatment Center, Bill Schleicker, said the urine test only detects a level high enough that it had to be ingested within the past three days.
At the time of his guilty plea, the judge told Black, "That would be the worst thing you could do between now and Jan. 3, to goof up."
On Friday, a stern Winder revoked his release order and said Black must remain in jail until sentencing. Since he must serve between five and 80 years on the charges, he will almost undoubtedly stay in custody after Jan. 3, too.
Winder lectured him about the many chances he had been given and how relatively lenient his conditions of release were.
As the hearing progressed Black remained calm but some family members wept bitterly. Some had come to Salt Lake City for the wedding.
Originally Black was charged with nine counts. In exchange for his admitting two, the others were dismissed.
The guilty pleas were to a charge that on June 2, he distributed cocaine to a minor on the University of Utah campus, and that on July 12, Black and Simmons possessed one kilogram (2.3 pounds) of cocaine with the intention of distributing it.
The Drug Enforcement Administration cites a wholesale value for cocaine as $30,000 per kilo.
The 255-pound Black was a star for the Utes. The 1988 Utah Outlook, published by the university, cites his "unique combination of exceptional size and speed." It called him "quick and agile, with great lateral movement."
In 1987, he tallied 520 yards rushing. This year, before he quit the team in April, he racked up 520 yards in 101 carries.
On April 1, Black said he wanted to quit the team. Later that month, he asked to return. Then in July he was arrested on the drug charges, along with two fellow students and two non-students.