By Connor Kianpour
On July 29, 2018, Jimmy Dee Teal and Jacqueline Noi Dennis were charged with violating California Health and Safety Code sections 11378 and 11364. The codes prohibit the possession of methamphetamine with the intent to sell the substance and the possession of paraphernalia used for unlawfully injecting or smoking a controlled substance, respectively.
At 10:12 PM on the night of the defendants’ apprehension, Officer Keegan Hironaka of the West Sacramento Police Department was dispatched to the area around Jefferson Boulevard and West Capitol Avenue to apprehend kidnappers that were alleged to have been driving a blue Mitsubishi Eclipse. Officer Hironaka and his partner found a car seeming to match the description of that car belonging to the purported kidnappers at the Dude Motel in West Sacramento, and found that the car belonged to Mr. Teal and Ms. Dennis who were staying in Room #8 at the motel.
The officers conducted a protective sweep of the motel room as the suspected kidnapping was conducted using a firearm. No firearms were found during this protective sweep nor were any victims of kidnapping. Ms. Dennis, however, was on searchable probation during the time of the protective sweep and this fact came to be known by the officers in question. The officers from the West Sacramento Police Department then administered a probation search wherein they found 79 grams of methamphetamine, 649 dollars in cash, two scales, and approximately 35 plastic baggies in the motel room.
On September 24, 2018, the preliminary hearing for Mr. Teal and Ms. Dennis occurred in Department 8, Judge David Reed presiding. Daniele Schlehofer, prosecuting in this case, called two witnesses to the stand. The first was Officer Hironaka, and the second was expert witness Zachary Ryno of the City of Woodland Investigations Bureau.
During his expert testimony, Mr. Ryno demonstrated his expertise in knowledge regarding the sale of methamphetamine. He testified that a typical methamphetamine user uses between one one-hundredth of a gram and two-tenths of a gram of methamphetamine during a session of use. 79 grams, however, were found under the bed in the room that Mr. Teal and Ms. Dennis were inhabiting. Mr. Ryno testified in his professional opinion that such a quantity of methamphetamine––in conjunction with the presence of scales, baggies, and various cash denominations––could only be possessed with the intent to sell the substance.
The defense, however, cast doubt on the charges levied against the defendants with respect to the intent to sell methamphetamine during the cross-examinations of both Officer Hironaka and Mr. Ryno. When cross-examining Officer Hironaka, the defense made clear that the phones of the defendants were searched at the scene of the crime and that there was no indication of sales being made or transactions being completed. Furthermore, the cross-examination of Mr. Ryno revealed that depending upon the quality of the methamphetamine in question, a user may require a substantially larger quantity than the aforementioned 0.01-0.20 grams.
Regardless, Judge Reed ruled that the defendants will have to answer to both counts that they have been charged with. Their arraignment is scheduled for October 9, 2018, at 8:30 AM.