Guilty verdict in largest heroin bust

Published 12:05 pm Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A woman Lawrence County’s prosecutor says was part of a drug “pipeline” from Detroit, Mich., to Huntington, W.Va., was found guilty Tuesday of trafficking more than $90,000 worth of heroin.

Evelyn M. Robinson, 45, of Detroit, was found guilty of first-degree felony counts of trafficking in heroin and possession of nearly 300 grams of heroin, the most ever confiscated by law enforcement in Lawrence County.

A jury made the decision after a three-day trial and about five and a half hours of deliberation.

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Robinson faces 11 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced in Judge Charles Cooper’s courtroom today.

The woman was arrested on Oct. 19 by the Ohio State Highway Patrol after troopers found three packages of heroin behind a taillight of her 2003 Cadillac Escalade.

As a result of the guilty verdict, that Escalade could be forfeited to the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office.

During the trial, Robinson’s attorney, Roger Smith, contended his client had no knowledge of the drugs being in her car and that the state failed to prove she was a willing participant in trafficking drugs to Huntington.

“If she was involved in this and she knew it, why didn’t she rent a car?” Smith asked the jury, also posing the question, why didn’t she make the drive during the day when she would blend in with regular traffic. “Because she had nothing to hide.”

Brigham Anderson, prosecuting attorney, contended Robinson knew exactly what she was transporting.

“Not only did she know about the drug pipeline, she is the drug pipeline,” Anderson said.

Trooper Joshua Craft pulled Robinson over around 3 a.m. on State Route 93 in Ironton after observing what he called “criminal indicators.”

Those indicators, Craft testified during the trial, were Robinson slowing her vehicle to an abnormally slow speed once she spotted the trooper and not resuming back to the posted speed limit; turning her face from the view of the trooper; gripping her hands tightly on the steering wheel; trembling when handing her identification information to the trooper; air fresheners in all the vehicle’s air vents; and a lack of luggage despite Robinson claiming she was visiting her nephew, Lamont Haywood, in Huntington for the weekend.

“I was confident there were going to be drugs in the car,” Craft said.

Craft called for a K-9 unit, which was provided by the Huntington Police Department. The dog alerted to the drugs near a wheel well, which were hidden in a black sock behind the taillight.

Once Robinson was notified the drugs were found, Craft said she acted matter-of-factly.

The jury watched the dash-cam footage of the traffic stop and listened to an initial interview of Robinson by Trooper Keith Fellure.

During that interview, Robinson told Fellure she was going to visit her nephew in Huntington, but gave a different name, this time Delmont Haywood.

Robinson also took the stand Friday and testified she was on her way to visit her nephew who was enrolled at Marshall University, calling him yet another name, Darnell Haywood.

On Tuesday, Anderson revealed that investigators checked the university’s records and there was no such student enrolled.

“Darnell Haywood does not exist,” Anderson told the jury.

He also played another audiotape for the jury, this time of a jail phone call made Friday between Robinson and one of her daughters. During the phone call, Anderson said, Robinson’s daughter spoke of someone named Lashawn, at which point Robinson reminded her the phone call was being recorded.

“She is still trying to get her story together to convince you she was not trafficking drugs,” Anderson said.

After the verdict was read, Smith said he respected the jury’s decision, but was “disappointed on behalf of my client.”

Anderson said the heroin bust was the largest ever in Lawrence County and was pleased with the verdict.

“We thought the evidence was overwhelming,” he said. “She knew $90,000 worth of heroin was in her vehicle. She was involved in a drug trafficking pipeline from Detroit to Huntington.”