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Suspect under the influence in court

Man indicted on heroin charge appears for hearing with blood-alcohol level of 0.11

By Preston Knight -- pknight@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- A Strasburg man suspected of distributing drugs dealt a blow to his own cause Wednesday morning when he came to Shenandoah County Circuit Court with a large amount of alcohol in his system.

Thor A. Mattson III, 43, of 168 Old Factory Road, Strasburg, was indicted in August on one count of possession with the intent to distribute heroin. As he appeared in court Wednesday on that charge and two other drug-related counts from last year, bailiffs suspected Mattson of being under the influence of alcohol. His case was set for 9 a.m.
After the defendant was tested, and once his case was called, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ken Alger said Mattson had consumed hard alcohol and registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.11. The legal limit to drive a car is 0.08. Mattson, who uses a walker, had someone with him and did not drive to court.

Defense attorney Amanda McDonald Wiseley, who was not present when the alcohol test was administered, elected to not have her client testify because of his condition.
"He just wants the court to know that he's sorry," she said.

Mattson was trying to kill pain that he endures, Wiseley said. The nature of his health problems was not disclosed. The defendant told Judge Dennis L. Hupp he was not on any medication after the judge inquired about having someone bring the man's prescribed drugs to him in jail, which is where he headed after his bond was revoked.

Online records state that Mattson has a drug history dating to at least 1995, when he pleaded guilty to distributing cocaine and marijuana. He received a suspended prison sentence with 10 years of probation.

Mattson returned to court for violating his probation in 2003 and served eight months in jail, records state. In Frederick County Circuit Court, he pleaded guilty to DUI in 2003 and possession of cocaine in 2004 based on an incident in 2002, records state. He served a year in prison on the cocaine conviction.

In 2007, he had another conviction for possessing cocaine and received a two-year suspended prison sentence with another four years of probation in Shenandoah County Circuit Court. He violated that in 2009 and spent 90 days in jail.

According to a news release from the Strasburg Police Department, a couple were seen buying heroin in 2010 from Mattson's house. It was being observed due to suspicion of drug dealing. The heroin charge he appeared in court for Wednesday is based on that investigation.

Mattson's next court appearance is Oct. 28.

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