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Tempers On Edge During Drug Trial
Updated May 5, 2013 1:04 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(BEDFORD) - Tempers were on edge Wednesday during testimony in Lawrence County Superior Court II when witnesses, the defense and the prosecutor clashed during testimony.

A jury will determine the fate of Jason M. Fields today who is accused of two counts of dealing methamphetamines, both class B felonies.

According to a probable cause affidavit on April 4 and March 6, Bedford Police officers used a confidential informant (CI) to make a drug purchase from Fields.

Police say they gave the informant marked money and equipped the person with a recording device. They also followed the informant and watched parts of the drug transactions.

His attorney John Plummer Jr. says police entrapped his client by using a CI to set up a drug buy. The informant is not being identified because of the risk of physical harm.

"The state wants you to convict my client and that is hogwash," Plummer told the jury during opening statements.

Plummer says the money to purchase the drug was given to the CI by police. The CI set up the drug buy and then asked Fields to make the purchase. Once the drug was purchased the CI was handed the drug and he then took it to police. Plummer says his client didn't make any money off the purchase nor did he keep any of the drug and that is entrapment.

However Assistant Prosecutor Tim Sledd says Fields knew what he was doing and no one forced him to buy the drugs for the CI.

"Not once, but twice he went up stream gathered the methamphetamines and delivered it," Sledd told the jury. "If you use your common sense, you will be firmly convinced that he (Fields) did just that and you must find him guilty."

Prosecution's First Witness

Bedford Police officer Joe Fender, who is a member of the Joint Drug Task Force, and who set up the "controlled buy," spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon on the witness stand.

Fender explained to the jury how a "controlled buy" is set up and how someone becomes a confidential informant.

"Many CIs are people who have been arrested on minor drug charges or other minor offenses who make a deal to get out of jail," Fender told the jury.

A "Controlled Buy"

Fender told the jury the steps in setting up a "controlled buy":

1. Information is gathered on who is being targeted, what is being purchased, how they are going to purchase the drug or drugs and when and where the purchase will take.

2. Police meet with the informant and a plan is developed.

3. The CI will call the potential seller and make sure a deal is in place.

4. The CI is searched to make sure they have no weapons, or other drugs on their person.

5. If the CI is driving a vehicle, the vehicle is searched to make sure there is no drugs or weapons in the vehicle.

6. The CI is fitted with a recording device to record all conversations.

7. Police maintain a visual on the CI at all times, if possible.

8. The CI is given marked money to make the purchase or make a sell. Marked money is money that has been photocopied so police can match serial numbers when an arrest is made.

9. The CI makes the drug deal.

10. The CI meets with police at a prearranged location and the drugs purchased are given to police, along with any money that may be left from the buy.

Jury members listened to two tapes of the "controlled buys."

Plummer's cross examination

Plummer says the "controlled buys" were between the CI and Shawn Michaels, the person who supplied the drugs.

Plummer asked Fender if Fields received any money in the drug transaction or if he kept any of the drug. Fender replied, no. He also asked Fender why the task force did not arrest Michaels when they knew he had the marked money used in the deal.

Fender told the jury he didn't have enough information to obtain a search warrant or an arrest warrant for Michaels. However Plummer asked that if a police officer sees a felony being committed doesn't that officer have the power to arrest the person without a search or arrest warrant. Fender said yes.

Tempers sparked between Plummer, Fender and Sledd when Fender tried to elaborate on his testimony, instead of answering the questions directly.

The state called only two witnesses: Fender and Lawrence County Police detective Aaron, Shultz, who also serves on the drug task force and was present on the two "controlled buys."

After Shultz's testimony the state concluded their case.

The defense

Plummer called his first witness, Shawn Michaels, however Michaels was not in the courtroom.

Plummer told the court that he had issued several subpoenas in several locations for Michael's appearance.

"So he is either ignoring the order to be here, or they were not able to locate him," he told Judge Bill Sleva.

His next witness was the CI.

Plummer asked the CI if he ever received pay for being an informant. The CI said no, but he did get gas money and a phone card.

The CI also testified about his past criminal record and that he was in jail when he volunteered to become an informant. He also testified that he had been used meth for about 18 years, but had been clean the last couple of months.

The CI also testified that he knew Shawn Michaels and use to be friends with him, until they had a disagreement.

The CI became upset with Plummer and didn't want to answer some of his questions. Judge Sleva stopped the argument between Plummer and the CI and ordered the man to cooperate and answer the questions.

The CI told the jury that he did ask Fields to purchase the drugs for him and another person.

Testimony will continue today at 8:30 a.m.

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