Drug Possession Trial Resumes

methBy Harald Kirn and Madeleine Gallay

The trial charging Kevin Slaton with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine reconvened the morning of July 22 with the continued testimony of Agent Austin, of the California Highway Patrol and YONET  (Yolo Narcotics Enforcement Team). The defendant was arrested after being pulled over for reckless driving and possibly driving under the influence. He was charged with intent to distribute, after 9.8 grams of methamphetamine was discovered in the center console of his automobile. In addition, 0.1 gram of crack cocaine was present on the seat next to him, and there was marijuana in the trunk, for which he had a medical card.

The prosecution first attempted through questions to assess the different quantities typically purchased for personal use, as opposed to the quantities typically purchased by individuals with an intent to distribute.

The witness then described how they found four phones inside the car, three on the passenger seat and one in a backpack.

One of the phones found on the passenger seat was recognized by the witness, and was what he referred to as a throwaway phone. The witness said: “Most people have one cell phone, when someone has more than one cell phone it peaks my interest.”

Authorities were able to find no information on the phones, and two of them could not be accessed due to encryption. They also never executed a search warrant on the suspect’s house, as they found at least four different addresses associated with the defendant and didn’t want to risk searching an innocent third party’s home.

The defense during cross-examination questioned the witness about the two pipes found in the car, and it was agreed by both parties that one was a pipe for smoking cocaine but the second pipe was broken.

The witness said the residue on the inside of the second pipe was more consistent with crack cocaine than methamphetamine, but conceded that it was possible that it could be a methamphetamine pipe with the bulb broken off, or that the defendant could have theoretically smoked methamphetamine out of a pipe typically used for smoking cocaine.

This supported the defense’s claim of possession for personal consumption.

The prosecution then called the CHP evidence technician for the Yolo county area to the stand. The witness said he had records of logging the blood sample of defendant Kevin Slaton on April 22, 2015, one day after the arrest, and then processing it for shipping to Valley Toxicology, where it arrived five days later.

He did not, however, recognize the envelope that was used to send the sample, which made the prosecution’s proof regarding the chain of custody of the blood sample questionable, allowing the defense to object and try to get the envelope in which the blood was sent, and the results of the test, thrown out.

The judge agreed with the prosecution on this matter, determining that the poor record of chain of custody was an issue of the weight given to the evidence, rather than one of admissibility.

Afternoon Session

In the ongoing trial of Kevin Slaton, two new witnesses testified. The first was an emergency medical technician who began his testimony by explaining the process of drawing blood and how it is stored. The technician revealed that he had drawn the defendant’s blood on April 21, 2015, at approximately 11 pm, quickly handing it off to the officer who was later in charge of the sample.

Following the dismissal of the American Medical Response technician, the judge presented five stipulations that were as follows: 1 gram of usable and real cocaine was found in the car; 3 grams of usable and real meth were found in the car; 1.7 grams of usable and real meth were found in the car; 7.8 grams of usable and real meth were found in the car; and on April 21 the defendant was in possession of a class B driver’s license.  Both parties agree these five pieces of information are true. At the closing of the disclosure of the stipulations, the People rested.

The defense began questioning their first witness, Dr. Donald R. Siggins, a licensed psychologist. The defense attorney began by clarifying to the court that Mr. Siggins is experienced in the field of drug addiction. Dr. Siggins testified that “I’ve been talking to alcohol and drug addicts for the last four years.” After questioning by both sides, the court designated him to be an expert witness.

In his testimony, Dr. Siggins delved into the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine on the body. One effect mentioned was rebound depression, which occurs when one is coming down of from a “high”.  Cocaine and methamphetamine both affect the individual’s dopamine levels differently.

The defense then began to question the witness about tolerance to drugs. Most people begin as casual users of cocaine or meth but eventually become habitual users. As stated by Dr. Siggins, “casual users become un-casual users very quickly.” As a user becomes un-casual, their tolerance level to the effects of the drug rises. That, as was shown later in Dr. Siggins’ testimony, will stay with the person for life.

Dr. Siggins then revealed that it is not as likely to die from overdosing on cocaine or meth as it is on heroin. He also disclosed to the court that “meth users are typically rational in going to work and obeying traffic laws, but they are irrational in the sense of being addicted to a dangerous drug.”

This then led into a conversation about trust. According to Dr. Siggins, drug addicts are more likely to reveal their drug use habits to a doctor who wants to help them, rather then to a policeman who wants to put them away for life.

Dr. Siggins also spoke about the possibility of poly-substance abuse, especially with alcohol. “Alcohol interferes with the going up but cushions the coming down.” Most drug abusers crave the fantastic world they visit when they are high, but after this ends they become depressed, and most will turn to alcohol to then make them feel better.

The cross-examination began with the review of Dr. Siggins’ education, clarifying that he has only taken two classes on drug abuse and he agreed that he has learned a lot from his hands-on training as an intern.

Dr. Siggins described his job as a drug and alcohol addiction counselor, and described to the court the possible side effects of methamphetamine and cocaine on the body. He also revealed that drug addicts will use anywhere from one hit to seven grams of drugs per day and that this is not unusual, especially if they have built up a tolerance to the drug.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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3 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    He was charged with intent to distribute after 9.8 grams of methamphetamine was discovered in the center console of his automobile”

    As well as revealing that drug addicts will take anywhere from a hit to 7 grams of drugs per day and this is not unusual, especially if they have built up a tolerance to the drug.”

    This again raises the question of how much drug has to be present before a reasonable charge of “intent to distribute” can be made ?

  2. Napoleon Pig IV

    How much longer will the idiocy of drug prohibition and the corrupt and failed “war on drugs” continue? What a colossal waste of resources. What if all jurors from here on simply voted to acquit in all drug cases because the laws are so stupid? Oink!

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