Drug dealer's wife's trial canceled 2 sides call evidence weak Husband jailed as '3-time loser'

February 26, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. yesterday canceled the drug trial of Kristie Ann Rheubottom after a prosecutor and defense attorney agreed that the circumstantial evidence in the case might not be strong enough for a conviction.

Mrs. Rheubottom, 22, of Westminster, was scheduled for trial yesterday on cocaine possession and distribution charges related to the conviction of her husband, Noland Maurice Rheubottom, who was sentenced Wednesday in his third drug-dealing case.

But Mrs. Rheubottom's case was placed on the court's "stet" docket after defense attorney James S. Salkin cited legal precedents which suggested the prosecution lacked evidence to connect her to drugs and other items found in the couple's apartment.

"There was a lot of circumstantial evidence, but you have to look at the big picture and the probability of a win," said Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III. "You look at appeals, the cost to taxpayers, the jury's time, and whether we had a very strong case. It was not as strong factually, at least in regard to this individual.

"But I know in my heart what was going on in that apartment," he said, referring to the couple's apartment at 10 W. Main St.

The charges against Mrs. Rheubottom will be dismissed if she commits no crimes within the next year. However, the case could be reopened later if "good cause is shown" by the prosecution, Mr. Walker said.

L "The case has been postponed indefinitely," said Mr. Salkin.

Mrs. Rheubottom, 22, and her husband, who is 28, were arrested June on drug charges after a raid on the apartment by the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force. Officers found a half-ounce of cocaine, a pager, police scanner, hand-held scale and almost $4,400 in cash there, they said.

Noland Rheubottom was convicted last month of cocaine distribution and related charges. He was sentenced Wednesday 25 years in prison without parole and fined $25,000 under the state's so-called "three-time loser" statute.

Evidence in that case showed that he was dealing cocaine out of the couple's apartment.

The real question, Mr. Walker said, was whether Mrs. Rheubottom knew what her husband was doing, because she was not on the premises when the raid occurred and the evidence against her was largely circumstantial.

As part of the stet docket agreement, Mrs. Rheubottom will forfeit a police scanner and a pager seized during the raid.

She remains in the Baltimore City Detention Center, where she is awaiting a hearing on a probation violation, which stems in part from her arrest in Carroll, Mr. Salkin said.

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