By Natalia Claburn
SACRAMENTO, CA – Aaron Turner was stopped by officers in his vehicle last October where they found LSD, methamphetamine, cocaine, and a check. According to evidence produced in Sacramento County Superior Court this week, Turner admitted to possessing meth and cocaine but knew nothing about the check and selling LSD.
Although, interestingly, Turner’s attorney said he knew more about LSD sales than police officers did.
On October 13, Turner was pulled over at a traffic stop, and next to him in the passenger seat was an acquaintance of Turner’s, who was not interviewed or investigated for the charges Turner would soon be facing.
Officers Braden Kelly and Ryan Ellis, who were both witnesses in this preliminary, asked Turner for identification at the scene, which the defendant claimed he did not have with him, verbally stating his name and informing the officers that he was currently on probation in Sacramento.
After confirming Turner’s probation status, Ellis asked Turner to step out of the vehicle to search the defendant while Kelly searched Turner’s vehicle. Right before the searches began, the defendant “spontaneously stated that he had just smoked,” said the officers.
Shortly after, the officers said they understood what the defendant had used to smoke as they discovered a “glass pipe with a bulbous end,” often referred to as a bong, that had a “burnt residue of a white, crystallized substance which (was) recognized to be methamphetamine.”
Turner did admit ownership of the bong which had been located under the driver’s seat of his vehicle, the officers said.
Under the same front seat, Kelly said he “located a business check, to a company out of the city of Anaheim, and it was not issued to nor was it issued from Mr. Turner,” but the defendant claimed that he knew nothing about it.
Not much attention was paid to the check in this hearing because Judge Burger-Plavan’s observation that there was no evidence indicating “that Mr. Turner had the intent to defraud another person.”
Officers Kelly and Ellis conducted a search of the personal items on Turner which included two wallets and two folded up one-dollar bills.
Inside one of the dollar bills, they testified, was a “white crystalized substance, recognized to be methamphetamine,” and the second dollar bill contained a white powdery substance that was recognized to be cocaine. It was determined that there were 0.3 grams of methamphetamine and 0.1 grams of cocaine.
Kelly said he then found “tie-dye colored tabs” recognized to be LSD in one of Turner’s wallets—42 LSD tabs with perforated edges to easily tear off a singular tab, with some of the tabs missing from what Ellis described as looking like a “small stamp book.”
Defense Attorney (first name not available on Zoom) Wyatt and Deputy District Attorney Michelle Carlson debated whether Turner was a drug user or drug seller. Officer Kelly said Turner had too much LSD to be just a user.
The defendant claimed that he found the LSD in a park, and it appeared difficult to determine based on the evidence and witnesses’ testimony’s whether or not Turner was selling the LSD.
Kelly said that LSD is used by removing the backing off of a tab and placing it on one’s tongue or on a person’s skin for it to be absorbed. Since one tab is enough to get users high, it was hard for Kelly to believe that Turner bought 42 tabs just for himself, he said.
Kelly had also discovered $154 in one of the wallets in Turner’s possession, which Kelly said may or may not have been related to the possession of the LSD.
However, Kelly’s argument was questioned by Wyatt, who made the point that Kelly was unaware of the shelf life of LSD and, therefore, it was within the realm of possibility that Turner was not selling it.
Similarly, Wyatt stated that in this courtroom, he most likely had about $150 with him, attempting to show the judge that carrying that amount of money is not irregular.
Carlson defended Officer Ellis’s credibility as an expert on LSD, stating that Ellis gave specific examples as to why this amount of LSD would not be for a single user and, therefore, it is more likely that the drug was being sold rather than used.
Defense counsel Wyatt responded by trying to discredit Ellis’s drug expertise, stating that “in my high school and college years I’ve got more experience seeing that drug than that officer does.”
Wyatt’s claim was in reference to the fact that Ellis had only dealt with about five cases involving LSD, because it is not a drug that police officers commonly encounter.
Putting a stop to the seemingly never-ending argument between the DDA and the defense attorney, the judge stated that “the court believes there is sufficient evidence of sales” of the LSD. Defendant Turner stood his ground with a plea of not guilty, calming stating “I don’t sell drugs” as the hearing came to a close.
The arraignment for Turner is Aug. 23. The trial will follow.