A Talladega man is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to trafficking in methamphetamine.

Jerry Lendon Whitten, 43, had originally entered a plea of not guilty by reason of severe mental disease or defect, according to Chief Assistant District Attorney Christina Kilgore, but after being evaluated, psychiatric experts determined that Whitten was “malingering.”

Whitten was arrested at what was then McCaig’s Motel in Talladega in July 2015. He had more than 30 grams of methamphetamine, or just over an ounce, in his pocket when members of the Talladega County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force came to serve him with two warrants for distribution of a controlled substance. According to information released at the time, Whitten was already out on bond when he was arrested at McCaig’s.

Drug trafficking is a class A Felony in Alabama, normally carrying a penalty of 10 to 99 year or life in prison. Kilgore said Whitten had three previous convictions for other class A felonies, however, meaning the only available sentence is life without parole. The previous convictions all appear to be first-degree robbery, dating back to the late 1990s.

Whitten will be formally sentenced in July by Circuit Judge Will Hollingsworth.

Across the hall, Circuit Judge Chad Woodruff accepted guilty pleas from Jason Warren Mitchell, 43, of Talladega, on charges of first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy, both class A felonies. Because the victim was under the age of 12, Kilgore said, Mitchell is facing 20 years to life in prison on each count.

Both counts involve the same victim, who was younger than 12 when the abuse took place in July 2014. Mitchell was arrested in September 2017.

Also in court this week:

Woodruff accepted a guilty plea from William Noland Fulford, 36, to second-degree burglary, and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. A charge of first-degree burglary was dismissed.

Hollingsworth accepted a guilty plea from Corey Gamble to first-degree robbery, and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Gamble and a woman accomplice were charged with holding a man at gunpoint and forcing him to withdraw money from ATMs. The woman, Tytiana Reaves, pleaded guilty last year and is serving 15 years in prison.