Guilty verdict, prison for Marianna man in drug case

MARIANNA – A jury took 15 minutes to find a Marianna man guilty of possession of methamphetamine Thursday and the judge imposed the maximum 5-year prison sentence, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Robert O’Neil Cloud, 49, was found guilty of Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia at the end of a 1-day trial prosecuted by Lawrence Gill. At sentencing, Gill provided the court with records showing the defendant had previous convictions for a number of felonies ranging from being a felon in possession of a firearm to multiple cases of Aggravated Battery and Felony Battery.

Circuit Court Judge Ana Maria Garcia sentenced Cloud to 5 years in prison, the maximum for a third-degree felony.

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“The defendant’s actions once again caught up with him,” Gill said after the sentencing. “This case is evidence that bad decisions add up and can lead to the longer sentences. We will continue to fully prosecute these drug cases our law enforcement partners make, and seek appropriate sentences in an effort to keep our community safe.”

Gill, assisted by Prosecutor Kara Bremer, called three witnesses. They included the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office K9 handler whose dog alerted on the defendant’s car, and presented evidence showing the defendant was in possession of about 2.5 grams of methamphetamine on March 1, 2023.

The defendant had an active warrant out for his arrest when Sgt. J. Merrit spotted him in his vehicle in a parking lot near Highway 71. He was joined by Deputy J. Rafferty and his K9 Dutch, and they approached the vehicle.

The defendant was placed under arrest for the active warrant and Dutch conducted a “free air sniff” and “alerted” on the vehicle, indicating the odor or presence of narcotics. The ensuing search turned up methamphetamine inside different packages of cigarettes.

The “alert” and interactions were preserved on bodycam as well.

Basford thanked the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for its proactive efforts to locate the defendant for the warrant which led to the seizure of the methamphetamine.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.