Expert Narcotics Witness Gives Testimony against Alleged Methamphetamine Dealer

By Deana Medina

During a preliminary hearing for defendant Jeremy Lee Deaton, the defense and prosecution stipulated to the fact that the items discovered by a Woodland narcotics specialist were indeed methamphetamine.

The only witness during the hearing was Agent Zachary Ryno, a Woodland peace officer of 10 years, currently in a specialized assignment where he is part of an enforcement team investigating the sale and transportation of controlled substances.

Ryno provided his testimony to support the stipulation.

Deputy DA Daniele Schlehofer began the questioning for the prosecution with covering Ryno’s background, asking him what drug dealers typically have in their possession – to which he answered scales, packaging materials, and a ledger.

She continued establishing Ryno’s knowledge on what is entailed in the selling of drugs, asking the various weights and measures one might encounter, about which he had no trouble providing information.

The prosecution succeeded in proving Ryno an expert in his area of narcotics, with the defense’s attempted rebuttal being that of asking Ryno if he had been proved an expert witness before, and if so how many times, to which he replied five times.

The accepted expert witness Ryno then told of his encounter with Jeremy Deaton, for whom he had received a search warrant on June 28, 2018.

On June 29, 2018, Ryno served the search warrant sometime after 8:00 pm. Due to the defense’s probing, Ryno revealed that his team had Deaton under surveillance one hour prior to the serving, along with numerous other days of surveillance. Information from a confidential source and this surveillance helped secure the search warrant for Deaton.

Once Ryno and his team arrived at Deaton’s residence, they watched as he exited his house and drove about a block away before pulling to a curb. Ryno detained Deaton in his car, noticing right away a plastic storage bin on top of the center console which appeared to contain methamphetamine inside of clear Ziploc bags. In his hands Deaton held a gallon-size Ziploc bag with over 100 grams of apparent methamphetamine. On his person, Deaton had an ounce of methamphetamine, a torch, and a wallet.

Later, when Ryno had time to search through the bin, he discovered 10 to 11 bags in total. Ryno searched the rest of the vehicle, finding in the back what he described as a tool bag, with two smaller bindles inside.

After proper searching of Deaton and his vehicle, Ryno moved to the residence, first detaining everyone else he saw in the house.

He took photographs, and then entered Deaton’s bedroom, which he confirmed by mail containing Deaton’s name found within the room. Scattered throughout the room lay new and unused packing material, a cellphone, another working digital scale, and a short list of names and numbers aligned with each name, leading Ryno to believe it was a ledger.

When asked by the prosecution whether Ryno believed Deaton to be a drug dealer, he did not hesitate, saying, “Having these quantities…he has the tools right there on him to make 16 grams [an example] to sell it.”

Deputy Public Defender David Muller’s cross-examination consisted of questioning the methodology used by Ryno, as stated before, with the surveillance tactic. Muller also questioned Ryno about whether he reported back when he had served the search warrant and detained Deaton, asking if there is some sort of catalog system he and his team use. Ryno stated there is no such system, but rather he knows what he did in his head, and his colleagues do as well. With one last attempt to discredit Ryno’s method, Muller asked if any sort of testing was used on the substances found, to which Ryno said an NIK test (field presumptive test) was completed and came back positive for methamphetamine.

The defense rested with the line of questioning, establishing the stipulation that the substances discovered by Ryno and his team were indeed methamphetamine.

Despite the defense’s best attempts to argue that Deaton should not face multiple counts for the same substance, Judge Janene Beronio said to “save it for the jury,” upholding all counts.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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