By Ganga Nair
SACRAMENTO, CA – William Lindemuth’s probation turned into three years in state prison here Tuesday in Sacramento County Superior Court after a judge found him guilty of violating two different probation terms, despite claims by the defense they had no reason to stop and search the defendant.
Lindemuth was arrested last April 23 and charged with possession of controlled substances for the purpose of sale, although testimony showed that Sheriff’s Dept. deputies stopped him because they knew him and his record, not because he was doing anything illegal.
Lindemuth was represented by defense attorney Vadim Kobrya in Judge Delbert Oros’ courtroom. The prosecution was represented by Alexandra James Sanders of the Sacramento District Attorney’s office.
Three witnesses were brought in to testify, including Deputies Kenda Chaplain and Justin Mulherin, along with Criminalist Danielle Gray of the Sacramento County Laboratory for Forensic Services.
Deputy Chaplin stated that he and his partner, Deputy Mulherin, were patrolling around a hotel within Sacramento County when they saw the defendant in the parking lot near a van. The two deputies were familiar with the defendant, and knew that there was an outstanding felony warrant for him.
They approached Lindemuth and searched him, despite the fact that the defendant did not look suspicious or as if he was under the influence, as the defense later highlighted.
Upon searching Lindemuth, Deputy Chaplin found three vials in a small black pouch containing “a white, crystal like substance of what appeared to be methamphetamine.” Chaplin also found multiple stacks of money in a green plastic bag, along with two cellphones. Neither of the cellphones were searched further for any indication of drug sales or transactions of any kind. Lindemuth was subsequently arrested.
The defense noted that Lindemuth was not arrested due to suspicious behavior, rather solely because there was an outstanding warrant for him.
Deputy Justin Mulherin echoed Deputy Chaplin’s story, noting the two deputies were familiar with Lindemuth among the homeless population, as they said he was heavily involved with methamphetamine. The money they recovered totaled to exactly $3,791, with around 186 of the bills consisting of $20 bills, as prosecution emphasized.
When asked by DDA Sanders about the amount of methamphetamine found on Lindemuth, Deputy Mulherin recalled the gross weight of the three vials totaling around 70 grams. Sanders then questioned Mulherin, asking specifically if this was a normal amount of methamphetamine considering the average dosage of users. Mulherin responded, “Out of the hundreds of people I have come into contact with and found methamphetamine on them, it’s always 3g, 2g, not 2 ounces of methamphetamine in their pocket.”
Danielle Gray was then called, to confirm that the confiscated substances were in fact methamphetamine.
Sanders concluded that the evidence presented along with the totality of the circumstances indicate that the defendant was in fact involved in the sale of methamphetamine.
She added the large sums of cash, paired with “the amount of methamphetamine being much more than the average user would have on their person for personal use.” Thus, the defendant violated his probation.
Defense counsel Kobrya on the other hand indicated that the deputies searched and arrested Lindemuth solely based on his outstanding warrant, not because he was doing anything suspicious or unlawful. He cited the “lack of other items that are usually seen for sales” as signs of how the methamphetamine was for personal use not for the sale, referring specifically to the lack of scales or baggies.
Kobrya pointed out that the deputies “see cash, they see drugs, they immediately conclude that the cash is from sales.”
Lindemuth does not have a home, or place to store any of his money that could have been taken out of his Employment Development benefits. Thus, all the money the defendant has would be carried on his person. So that was not unusual, Kobrya said.
Judge Delbert Oros concluded that, although the defense’s claims may be true, the lack of evidence to support this claim forces him to find that Lindemuth was in fact possessing controlled substances for the purposes of sale.
The judge then offered to continue the matter to look over Lindemuth’s criminal history through a probation report before deciding a sentence. Lindemuth refused this. Thus, the decision was made based on the prosecution’s summary of Lindemuth’s criminal history, dating back to 1993.