West Sacramento Man Facing Multiple Drug and Weapon Charges

Yolo County Courthouse - New

Yolo County Courthouse - Newby Sarah Abfalter

Opening statements were given on Tuesday in the case of Melvin George Humphrey, a West Sacramento man facing multiple charges, including the manufacture of concentrated cannabis, possession of marijuana and methamphetamine with the intent to sell, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime. Humphrey was arrested on July 8, 2014, after selling a controlled substance to an undercover police officer.

When police searched Humphrey’s home in West Sacramento back in July of 2014, approximately 16 pounds of marijuana, 7 pounds of concentrated cannabis, and 7 grams of methamphetamine were found inside. Also found inside the home were 3 loaded guns, various types of ammunition, and $11,000 in cash.

According to Deputy District Attorney Kyle Hasapes, all of the items found inside Humphrey’s home were there for a specific purpose—the manufacture and sale of illegal drugs. Hasapes also informed the jury that, in addition to these items, there is circumstantial evidence in this case that points to the conclusion that Humphrey had the intent to sell. This evidence includes security cameras, plastic baggies, and cans of butane (butane is used in the manufacture of concentrated cannabis).

During his statements, Hasapes reiterated this theory by informing the jury that Alisha Slater, an agent with the Yolo Narcotics Enforcement Task Force (YONET), would be testifying at trial that, in her opinion, the reason these items were found in the home was in order to manufacture and sell controlled substances.

However, according to Humphrey’s attorney, Anthony Palik, these items were not part of a criminal drug enterprise as Hasapes alleges. According to Palik, the prosecution’s case-in-chief is “entirely based on a small amount sold to an undercover agent” and that the drugs found inside Humphrey’s home were only for personal use.

During his opening statement, Palik painted a very different picture than Hasapes did. Palik informed the jury that the prosecution would not be able to provide evidence to prove that any of the money found in Humphrey’s home was from the sale of drugs. According to Palik, the money found inside the Humphrey home was actually from the sale of valuable pure-bred dogs, the sales of which Humphrey had recorded in detail.

Palik’s argument is that the items found inside Humphrey’s home were in fact for personal use and that Humphrey maintained a valid card for the medicinal use of marijuana. Palik reminded the jury that Humphrey was arrested outside of his home by an undercover agent and critiqued the prosecution’s theory as being based almost entirely on circumstantial evidence.

Additionally, Palik pointed out to the jury that the firearm was found inside the home when Humphrey was not home and that it would be a question that would rest with the jury on whether or not this could really be considered the use of a weapon in the commission of a crime.


Day One: Police Testify in Possession Trial

By Monica Velez

At around 5 p.m. on July 8, 2014, the West Sacramento Police Special Investigations Unit received a search warrant for the residence of Melvin George Humphrey in West Sacramento, looking for firearms and drug-related items.

The first witness to take the stand the morning of December 15, 2015, was Detective Anthony Herrera, who was able to find enough evidence on July 8, 2014, to arrest Humphrey. Humphrey now faces multiple charges—possession of marijuana and methamphetamine with intent to sell, possession of a firearm and the manufacturing of concentrated cannabis.

On the witness stand, Herrera told Deputy DA Kyle Hasapes that on July 8 he started searching the garage, finding a tall red tool box that contained a loaded pistol grip shot gun, 70-plus rounds of ammunition, two digital scales, 1.4 pounds of hash (resin collected and compressed from cannabis), two tubs of cannabis concentrate (about five pounds total) and a sunglasses case containing individual packages of methamphetamine.

In the master bedroom Herrera said they found another digital scale, a bag full of 1-inch by 1-inch sized bags, a loaded .38 Smith & Wesson revolver and three boxes of marijuana concentrate. In the bedroom there was also a safe that contained over $9,000 that was split up in manila envelopes, a loaded handgun and a payout sheet with dates and amounts of money that was owed.

Around the house they discovered seven bottles of butane (used to make a hash oil from cannabis, also referred to as honey oil or butane hash oil), glass water pipes, a methamphetamine pipe, ammunition, clips and, according to Herrera, more than three pounds of shake (the excess trimmings of a cannabis plant). In the refrigerator there was also butane hash oil (BHO) in two tubs of butter.

Within the entire house, the West Sacramento Police found a grand total of 16 pounds of processed marijuana, over $11,000 and 4.9 grams of methamphetamines.

Humphrey was not present during the search, but arrived shortly after, with Herrera and undercover agent Alisha Slater meeting him in the driveway. Herrera said that Humphrey was on his cell phone when he pulled up to the house, not wanting to get out of the locked car. After a few moments, Humphrey complied and was detained during the rest of the search, and arrested.

Defense Attorney Anthony Palik asked Herrera about the tubs of butane hash oil (BHO) that were in the refrigerator and why he thought “dad” was written on one of the tubs of butter the BHO was stored in. Herrera said he did not know for sure, but thought the tub was labeled so his kids would not get into it and overdose. When asked, Herrera said that he could only recall one child living in the house, around the age of four or five.

Sergeant Jason Winger was the second and last witness to be questioned for the day. Winger has been trained in examining cell phones and has been in the forensic examination of cell phones for four years.

Winger told Hasapes that he did a cell phone extraction of data from Humphrey’s phone in January 2015, looking for evidence of drug and firearm possession. There were around 2,000 pages of data extracted from the cell phone.

The conflicting issue in this piece of evidence, which Palik pushed, was that yes, there were messages being sent to Humphrey’s phone asking “Hi can I front a quarter pretty please?” and “How much for half an oz.?” However the messages were not being sent to Humphrey’s phone number—Winger traced them to different numbers from around the county.

Winger said that from the data he extracted he could only be certain that those messages were being sent to Humphrey’s SMS (Short Messaging Service) inbox because they were stored on the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card.

“How it [the text messages] made it to the phone, I can’t figure that out,” said Winger.

However, Winger did offer a possible explanation as to how the messages were being sent to different numbers, but all ended up going directly to Humphrey’s phone.

Winger explained how going online and making a Gmail account on Google allows people to link a different number to their cell phone, making it possible to receive messages from people while never having to give out their actual number.

Winger said he himself has used this method while he was undercover. Palik stressed to the court that the only thing known for certain was that it was Humphrey’s phone, and there was no proof as to whether Humphrey was the receiver of the messages.

Pictures on Humphrey’s phone of a handgun, a butane bottle and marijuana were also shared as evidence. Palik, using a similar argument in Humphrey’s defense, explained that it could be possible that somebody else took the photographs and there was no evidence as to where the photographs were taken.

Winger agreed that there was no proof Humphrey took the photographs but offered his opinion, finding it uncommon that someone other than the owner of the cell phone would take pictures on the phone.

The rest of the evidence for Humphrey’s trial is scheduled to be presented December 16 at 9:00 a.m.

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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