By Kelsey Stewart
Picture this: A Jack in the Box at 9:48 in the morning, a young couple arguing in front of a black sedan and 19.77 grams of crystal methamphetamine in an Altoids box.
These were the events that led to Wednesday afternoon’s preliminary hearing in Department 10.
On May 18, 2019, Deputy Brian Freeman was dispatched to a Jack in the Box in Dunnigan where he found defendants, Destiny Renee Sturdivant and Cody Shane Hamilton, engaged in what he described as a “verbal fight.” He did not hear the contents of the fight, but heard Mr. Hamilton shout, “Now, we’re f*cked” when he saw the deputy approach the vehicle.
Deputy Freeman testified that Mr. Hamilton appeared to be under the influence of stimulants by his excessively nervous demeanor, constant fidgeting and his inability to carry on a conversation. Once Deputy Freeman learned that Mr. Hamilton was currently on parole, he performed a vehicle search. Mr. Hamilton admitted that crystal methamphetamine would be found in the vehicle, but he stated it that belonged to Ms. Sturdivant.
Found in the vehicle were 19.77 grams of crystal methamphetamine, along with various personal items such as clothing and toiletries.
Mr. Hamilton said in his statement that he and Ms. Sturdivant were traveling to pick up items from his deceased father.
Due to the net weight of drugs recovered, Sheriff’s Deputy Freeman booked Mr. Freeman and Ms. Sturdivant with possession of a controlled substance for sale. He stated that the typical amount of methamphetamine for personal use would range between .10 to 1.5 grams.
Next to testify was Erin Forster, also a deputy sheriff, who also responded with Deputy Freeman to the call that led to the Jack in the Box. She conversed with Ms. Sturdivant, who revealed that she was fighting with Mr. Hamilton because she wished to rent a motel room to take a shower but “he did not get it.”
Deputy Forster testified that, at first, Ms. Sturdivant did not appear to be under the influence of any drugs. She was able to hold a conversation and did not have the physical incapacities that Mr. Hamilton was displaying. However, once she was taken to the jail, she displayed paranoia, which is commonly related to being under the influence.
Ms. Sturdivant admitted in her statement that methamphetamine would be found in their vehicle, yet she stated that it was Mr. Hamilton’s and that he was attempting to sell it. She also stated that Mr. Hamilton used methamphetamine himself, which upset her since she was scared of him when he used it.
Ms. Sturdivant said the last time she used methamphetamine was around one and a half weeks before her arrest.
She also testified that a methamphetamine pipe was recovered from their car by Sacramento deputies and was smashed.
Officer Matthew Milliron, designated an expert witness in the sale of methamphetamine, testified that the defendants displayed the intent to sell the drugs. The weight alone is much higher than a weight that methamphetamine users would carry. The fact that there was no scale nor indicia of selling does not prove to be a problem for this theory, he stated. He has had contact with many methamphetamine dealers who do not carry baggies and scales.
The court then asked for closing arguments. Mr. J. Toney, from conflict counsel, reserved, as did Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian for the prosecution.
Deputy Public Defender Emily Fisher argued that the only evidence the People had was the weight of the methamphetamine, and there was a lack of evidence.
The court ruled that the two defendants will be held to answer for possession of controlled substances for sale, the transport and selling of controlled substances and the conspiracy to commit a crime. Mr. Hamilton will face an enhancement for a prior conviction.