Jury returns conviction in trafficking case
Sentencing set for March 29
John A. Spencer, 23, of Ironton, was found guilty on three counts of trafficking in cocaine and one count of complicity to trafficking in cocaine in a jury trial in Common Pleas Judge Andrew Ballard’s courtroom on Friday.
The jury found the argument of defense attorney Roger Smith, that the informant in the case could have hidden drugs and used them to setup Spencer to distract attention from her own probation violations, unconvincing and chose to convict on all four counts, even the complicity charge where an unknown and unnamed man sold the informant, Mary Mills, cocaine with marked bills while Spencer was not home.
Mills admitted on the stand that she had been previously convicted of trafficking in oxycodone, and that she was paid $100 each of the four times that she used marked funds to purchase drugs from Spencer.
Mills became involved as an informant after she failed a urinalysis and tested positive for both marijuana and oxycodone, although the details of how Officer Perry Adkins, with the drug task force, first approached her remained unclear. Mills answered in the affirmative when Smith asked if Adkins suggested she could stay out of trouble by participating in controlled buys.
While the video evidence obtained for the drug task force by Mills wasn’t clear while playing, as the camera moved around a great deal with Mills body movement and shot from odd angles, stills taken from the film clearly show Spencer in his vehicle at the Speedway while Mills approached him, and later show Spencer coming out to his driveway and reaching through the passenger door of Mills’ automobile.
The jury convicted Spencer on all four counts, with specifications for dealing within 1,000 feet of a school or in the presence of children. Two of the buys, including the one that Spencer was not present for, occurred at Spencer’s 609 Cliff Street address, within 1,000 feet of Ironton Elementary School. The other buys took place at a Speedway, which was within 1,000 feet of St. Lawrence Elementary School.
On the tape Spencer can be heard turning down two other locations for an exchange, a park and a ball field, because of the possibility of children and families being nearby. Ironically Mills’ suggestion of the Speedway, while not a location where children congregate, was in close enough proximity to the St. Lawrence school to result in the additional stipulation to the charge applying on all four counts.
Smith raised concerns about the inspection of Mills’ automobile not being conducted on camera, despite filming other aspects of the case, and the fact that Capt. Chris Bowman, a male officer, was the one to search Mills as well as her car, meaning that Mills was not fully strip searched prior to each buy as she would have been by a female officer. He also asked why Spencer was not arrested after the first or second buy, instead of continuing to inflate the case against him, but the jury found the suggestions of entrapment unconvincing.
Spencer will return to Ballard’s court on Wednesday, March 29, for sentencing.