Man's evidence battle fails

he gets 5 years in drug case

Defendant's attorney sought to suppress seized vial of cocaine

March 14, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore man was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison after losing a bid in a Carroll County courtroom to have evidence against him in a September drug arrest suppressed.

Nathan S. Walker, 28, entered a plea of not guilty to cocaine distribution but agreed to accept the state's version of the facts against him.

By doing so, Walker avoided a trial and the risk of being sentenced to a prison term of seven to 14 years, as recommended in state sentencing guidelines, said prosecutor Theresa M. Adams. She agreed to drop additional charges of possession and distribution of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia in return for Walker's plea.

Before being sentenced, Walker told Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. that he was not pleased with "inconsistencies among the officers' testimony" at last week's pretrial hearing, Adams said.

"He said he was disappointed the courts give more importance to public opinion than due process," Adams said.

"Judge Beck said he did find some inconsistencies, but that nothing was done intentionally," Adams said.

Laura G. Morton, a Westminster attorney representing Walker, had tried at last week's hearing to convince Beck that Westminster police officers did not have probable cause to stop her client and search him for drugs.

Had Beck agreed, a vial of cocaine sold to a police informant and $40 used to buy it would have been inadmissible as evidence against Walker. In addition, 16 bags of cocaine that were discovered stuffed into the rear seat of the patrol cruiser used to transport Walker to police headquarters in Westminster would have been inadmissible.

In other motions, which Morton then withdrew, she had sought to link the arresting officer in Walker's case, Detective Chris Outten, to his partner, Officer Richard A. Ruby, who was suspended last month.

Ruby was accused by two other Westminster officers of trying to plant drug evidence on suspects in unrelated cases last July. He is under investigation by the state attorney general's office.

Adams said she was encouraged that no allegations of deliberate wrongdoing surfaced in regard to Outten or the other officers who assisted in Walker's arrest.

"When you have multiple officers testifying, you expect inconsistencies in their testimony," she said. "It was not perfect police work, but it was good police work."

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