Co-Defendants Found in Possession of Narcotics, Weapons, Burglary Tools – Court Orders Trial

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By Macy Lu 

SACRAMENTO, CA — Co-defendants Jeff Fowler and Timothy Pearce, whose possession of methamphetamine, heroin, and a variety of narcotics-related paraphernalia framed them as likely drug dealers, according to Deputy District Attorney Emilee Divinagracia.

The court agreed after the preliminary hearing this week, and a trial was ordered.

The DDA’s first witness last week in Sacramento County Superior Court was Galt peace Officer Jared Spinelli, who made the initial arrest on July 29, 2020, after observing the defendants’ vehicle, a Dodge Magnum, fail to stop at a stop sign.

Upon approaching the Magnum, he noticed that it was missing a front bumper and brown napkins were covering the license plate. After a records check revealed that the driver, Pearce, was on active parole, Spinelli requested a backup unit to help him detain the defendants.

Officers found, on the floorboard of the front passenger seat, brass knuckles, a double edged switchblade knife that was approximately 10 inches long, and “a black pouch with a large amount of money in it,” said the officer.

Office Spinelli noted that Fowler, the passenger, confessed that the brass knuckles and the money belonged to him.

During a cross-examination with Pearce’s Assistant Public Defender Anthony Crisostomo, Spinelli also stated that Fowler claimed ownership of “a notebook with names and numbers,” which he had possessed prior to meeting Pearce that day.

Detective Young Hammack from the backup unit who had assisted Officer Spinelli in the search additionally found a “red bag in the rear hatch of the vehicle” containing “a basic auto-lockout kit that has different tools to open windows, doors, locks, etc of vehicles.” When asked if these are “common tools used for burglary,” he replied yes.

A secondary search by Detective Lauren Kroger, also part of the backup unit, revealed a “taser device–also known as a stun gun” that was inside a jacket, said Spinelli.

Officer Spinelli recited that in Detective Kroger’s report, “Detective Hammack told her that he had located the jacket on the rear passenger floorboard,” but, given the nature of his statement, it was successfully objected to on the account of hearsay.

As her final question, DDA Divinagracia asked, “Did either defendant claim that jacket as their own?” to which Officer Spinelli replied, “Not that I know of.”

DDA Divinagracia, PD Crisostomo, and Fowler’s attorney, Manuel Alvarado, spent time examining the knowledgeability of Divinagracia’s next witness, Galt Police Department Officer Nicholas Kohler. Based on his training and experience, they concluded that he qualified as an “expert witness.”

Officer Kohler reported that he had located “two black canvas bags” that were slightly smaller than a “school backpack” between the two defendants. These were linked together by a white strap and sat atop a heap of “pillows and blankets at the center console of the vehicle.”

He recalled that one of the bags contained “57.7 grams of methamphetamine,” “over 30 grams of heroin as well as miscellaneous pills, testosterone.” Eight out of 30 grams of the heroin was contained in an “orange and red rubber container” also stored in that black bag. Its counterpart contained nothing of “evidentiary value.”

Other “items of paraphernalia” that Kohler discovered in the bag included “approximately 30” hypodermic needles and “approximately five” spoons.

He explained that users commonly use spoons to heat up and melt the heroin into liquid form for the purpose of injection. Additionally, he noted that it is typical for sellers to possess large quantities of needles, as needles are something they would supply to their clients.

Officer Kohler’s search also produced an ordinary black scale with meth and heroin residue on its weighing plate, a “triple beam scale,” which is favored among narcotics dealers, and an aerosol can displaying narcotics residue and various papers within.

Furthermore, the vehicle contained a black backpack with “more than three” “small, individual baggies,” which Kohler suspects the defendants used as packaging materials for the narcotics.

“Now based on the methamphetamine and heroin found in the vehicle as well as the other evidence that we talked about—the scales, the empty baggies, needles, spoons, the cash, do you have an opinion as to why the defendants Pearce and Fowler possessed those drugs?” inquired DDA Divinagracia.

“My opinion is that they were distributing and selling narcotics,” Officer Kohler replied bluntly.

During cross-examination by defendants’ counsel, supplementary and prominent information came to light regarding the potential ownership of the narcotics and paraphernalia.

For one, the ownership of the Dodge Magnum remains undetermined.

For another, Officer Kohler did not take a statement from either defendant regarding when Fowler accessed the Dodge or how the two black canvas bags fell into their possession. Furthermore, Kohler reported that there was no indicia of ownership within those bags such as “debit cards or identification cards.”

Near the conclusion of the hearing, attorney Alvarado felt it necessary to clarify that the suggestive nature of the evidence alone is not sufficient to indict his client, Fowler, as a drug dealer.

He stated, “I don’t believe there was evidence that this was no different than someone buying in bulk versus someone that’s selling. It could be one or the other given the evidence…substantively it’s not been the case that the amount is for sale versus for personal consumption.”

When Judge Earl charged the defendants with a misdemeanor violation of unlawful possession of burglary tools, Alvarado tried to contend that Fowler was unaware about any items in the trunk prior to accessing the vehicle.

However, as DDA Divinagracia pointed out, Fowler did claim ownership of the money, the brass knuckles, and the notebook with the names and addresses.

Judge Earl agreed with Divinagracia that there indeed was “enough evidence to find that [Fowler] knew what was in that car as a passenger.”

The judge ruled the case should go to trial, with the arraignment then set for March 16, 1:30 p.m. in Dept. 62.

Macy is a junior from Orange County, CA, studying Communications and English at UC Davis. She loves meeting people, reading, and writing.  


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