By Mary Magana-Ayala
SACRAMENTO, CA–– Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Stephen Acquisto this week found there was enough evidence to hold Andrew Williams to answer to four felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon and being in possession of controlled substances with intent to sell.
According to Deputy District Attorney Patrick Brady, the incident occurred on April 11, 2021, when police Officer William Maslak was patrolling a parking lot of a hotel, where he found Williams and his friend in a white vehicle.
“That area has been hit by a rash of burglary and narcotics” testified Officer Maslak when describing the scene where he encountered Williams in a hotel parking lot.
Officer Maslak explained Williams had a nervous behavior when the officer approached and he saw Williams had reached down toward his seat.
The officer stated that when he asked what Williams and his friend were doing in the parking lot, Williams stated they were staying at the hotel and smoking a cigarette.
Once calling for backup, Officer Maslak testified that his sergeant observed a gun located under the seat which then led to putting Williams in handcuffs.
While searching the defendant, Officer Maslak stated they found 25-30 pills of probable Ecstasy and 5.1 grams of cocaine.
“Is 25-30 pills a usable amount?” asked DDA Brady. “It is more than the usable amount,” replied Officer Maslak, who added a usable amount of Ecstasy is usually around one pill. He said the cocaine retrieved from the defendant was more than the usable amount because a person usually consumed one gram, and not five.
“In your opinion do you believe that he possessed drugs for purposes of sale?” asked DDA Brady. “Yes, based on the amount of 5.1 grams of cocaine and 25-30 pills of Ecstasy is more than the typical amount,” stated Officer Maslak.
During the cross-examination, Assistant Public Defender Raymond Thomas asked, “In looking at your report, I don’t see you performed any testing, correct?”
“Yes, sir,” replied Officer Maslak, who explained that no testing was done of the potential narcotics found on Williams in order to ensure the safety of the police officers.
PD Thomas also questioned the expertise of the officer by asking, “ Would you say that this is your first-time Ecstasy arrest?”
“Yes,” replied Officer Maslak, adding while it was his first time seeing Ecstasy on the streets, he had previously seen it in his experience in the academy where they would pass bags of narcotics around to get acclimated on how to identify certain narcotics.
The PD also framed the incident as if the defendant was not selling the narcotics found, but sharing it with his friend or other potential friends by stating, “In your experience have you ever known or heard of a narcotic user to share with other people at a party or hangout?” “Yes,” replied Officer Maslak.
During DDA Brady’s redirect he asked, “When speaking to the defendant did he call the drugs by specific names” in which Officer Maslak replied “Yes sir.”
DDA Brady also asked if there were any other factors not including the mass quantities of drugs found on the defendant that led the officer to believe the defendant was selling narcotics. Officer Maslak stated that the other factors included the scales and baggies found in the William’s vehicle.
PD Thomas also asked if large amounts of cash or foot tracking would be indicative of narcotic sales, to which Officer Maslak testified they were factors which were not found in William’s case.
The public defender then asked the court to reduce William’s first charge of possessing a concealed firearm to a misdemeanor, but DDA Brady objected stating that “it shouldn’t be reduced, the gun is not registered and it was clearly accessible under his seat with the drugs he has for sale. It’s all felony conduct.”
Judge Stephen Acquisto agreed and denied the motion to reduce the first felony charge to a misdemeanor.
Judge Acquisto recognized that no lab tests were done to test the narcotics but stated that “we do have the testimony describing the two substances in a way that is consistent with cocaine and Ecstasy…we have Mr. Williams referring to them as cocaine and Ecstasy. I believe for the purposes here…there is sufficient cause to believe that Mr. Williams is guilty.”
Not guilty pleas were entered and the trial is set for Feb. 3, 2022.