Judge suppresses drug arrest evidence

December 17, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Prosecutors will not be able to use 12 bags of crack seized from a car as evidence in a case against a man charged with multiple drug offenses, Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. has ruled.

In granting defendant Lundon Lucich's motion to suppress evidence, the judge called the seizure of the drugs improper because "there was no probable cause to believe that the illegal drugs would be in the defendant's possession when the vehicle was stopped."

The judge's ruling -- filed Monday -- puts the state's case against Mr. Lucich in jeopardy, as it throws out the only physical evidence that could connect the defendant to any drug activity.

Mr. Lucich was a passenger in a 1976 Oldsmobile on July 17 when officers of the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force received word from a confidential informant that the car's occupants were headed to Baltimore to "buy cocaine," court records said.

Task force officers followed the car from Westminster to Interstate 795. Officers waited for the car to return to Westminster, and, when the car turned off the road the that informant said would be used, the officers following the car stopped it.

As they were stopping the car, the police noticed a passenger in the front seat appear to "stuff something under, or next to, his seat," the judge's opinion said. "Police got out of their car; one officer had his gun drawn. They ordered everyone out of the vehicle. The defendant and others were searched and handcuffed while an officer searched the inside of the vehicle."

In the car, the officers found eight bags of crack cocaine. Beside the front passenger seat -- where Mr. Lucich was sitting -- officers found four more bags of crack.

The judge agreed with Assistant Public Defender Samuel Truette -- a one-time head of the county's drug task force -- that the stop was without legal merit and that the drugs were illegally obtained.

"Without a confirmatory communication or signal from the confidential informant indicating that the defendant was in possession of the illegal drugs, police could only speculate that the defendant possessed drugs at the time of arrest," the judge wrote.

"There was no other indication of criminal activity at the time."

Judge Beck also called the state's confidential informant a "stool pigeon" with a criminal record. The informant, the judge wrote, was deemed "reliable" by police because he gave them information leading to five search warrants and subsequent arrests in the past. Those cases are pending.

Mr. Lucich, 22, of Eldersburg, is charged with multiple counts of drug possession and distribution. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 6.

The effect Judge Beck's ruling will have on the other two people arrested during the search was unclear.

Harold Lee Brightful, 29, of Westminster faces multiple drug possession and distribution charges as well as charges of assault, battery and resisting arrest. His trial is scheduled for Feb 17. Herbert Eugene Dorsey, 36, also of Westminster, faces trial Jan. 6. He is charged with multiple drug possession and distribution counts.

Neither Mr. Truette nor Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III would comment on the ruling yesterday.

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