Fraternity leader convicted of possession of marijuana One-tenth of a gram was found in his bedroom

November 14, 1996|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A fraternity leader at Western Maryland College was convicted of marijuana possession yesterday in Carroll County Circuit Court.

The jury deliberated less than an hour before returning its guilty verdict against Brett A. Gershman, 21, of Newark, Del.

Judge Luke K. Burns deferred sentencing until Feb. 10, 1997, after denying a defense motion for acquittal despite the verdict in the two-day trial.

Westminster police officers said they smelled a strong odor of burned marijuana outside the door of apartment 3-D after they were called to Garden Apartments by campus security Sept. 15, 1995.

Police said they found 20 to 25 people at a party in that apartment, which belonged to Gershman and three roommates.

After police saw a small bag containing suspected marijuana on a table in a bedroom, they permitted everyone except Gershman and the roommates to leave.

Gershman, who was president of a fraternity not recognized by the college, was charged after he told police the bedroom was his.

Robert L. Kline III, a Reisterstown attorney representing Gershman, called the police investigation sloppy.

He argued that four people were found in the bedroom at the time of the raid, but were never identified.

Kline said his client was with his father all day, did not help set up the party and arrived at the party after it had begun.

The lawyer said his client was in the living room when police arrived.

Kline also argued that distance between the drugs and his client was a key element to prove possession.

He charged that the state did not prove its case, but prosecutor Theresa M. Adams objected.

After a brief discussion with lawyers at the bench, Burns told the jury that Kline had erred.

The judge said distance is a circumstance -- not a key element -- and may be considered by the jury.

Kline also urged the jury to ask why Gershman's roommates were not charged.

In rebuttal, Adams strongly objected, saying the jury need not concern itself with anything but whether the defendant was in possession of the marijuana.

She said that the amount of marijuana -- one-tenth of a gram -- did not matter.

Nor did it matter whether the defendant used the drug, or even had it in his hand, she said.

What mattered, Adams said, was that Gershman had control over the bedroom of his campus apartment and could have ordered all partygoers to leave and "take their stuff" with them.

Pub Date: 11/14/96

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