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Misty Croslin appeal of drug sentence denied

Last person to see Haleigh Cummings appealed conviction, 25-year sentence

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Misty Croslin, who was a teenager babysitting Haleigh Cummings when the 5-year-old Satsuma girl disappeared in 2009, was denied a motion for a reduced sentence on a  2010 conviction on drug trafficking charges.

Croslin testified in St. Johns County in March, asking a judge to overturn her conviction and sentence. But the judge found Croslin had adequate representation and denied the motion for a reduced sentence.

Croslin claimed that her plea was involuntary because her lawyer, Robert Fields, told her that if she pleaded no contest, she would be sentenced to a maximum of six years in prison as a youthful offender.

"He pretty much just told me not to worry ... everything is going to be OK," Croslin said. "I was under medication and wasn't fully aware of what was going on. I put all my trust in him."

Croslin admitted that judges in both St. Johns and Putnam counties told her she would face a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence, but thought that was the maximum, not the sentence she would receive.

Croslin's father, Hank Croslin, also testified that Fields said repeatedly that his daughter would not get more than six years in prison because she had never been in legal trouble before.

Fields testified that he never made that promise, and that in fact, he told Misty Croslin that by pleading no contest she would get the minimum mandatory of 25 years. 

"We got 25 years concurrent across the board, and that was a success. She wanted to get out. We discussed (it) many times," Fields said.

Fields said he felt the sting in which Croslin and others were videotaped in drug deals with undercover investigators was directly related to law enforcement trying to get information from her on Haleigh's disappearance.

Fields said he began counseling Croslin after Haleigh's disappearance and before her drug arrest.

"I felt obligated (to help her). She had no one else," Fields said.

After Haleigh disappeared, Croslin married the missing girl's father, Ronald Cummings, who is also serving 25 years in prison, as three other people on drug-dealing convictions. Prosecutors released surveillance videos that they said show undercover drug deals involving Misty and Ronald Cummings.

Authorities always maintained that the drug charges have no connection to the ongoing investigation into Haleigh's disappearance. The child was never found. The Putnam County Sheriff's Office considers it an unsolved homicide case.