Mixed verdict in drug case
by Jessica Loeding
May 15, 2014 | 2552 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After more than a day of testimony riddled with objections from Prosecutor Erle Newton, a jury on Wednesday found one man guilty of selling marijuana in Superior Court Judge Carey Nelson’s courtroom.

Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force agents arrested Jesse William Baker on July 26 in a “roundup” of 20 to 25 arrests stemming from intertwined investigations on drug sales.

A confidential informant testified Tuesday that he “agreed to work off” drug charges resulting from a July 8 traffic stop on Country Club Drive.

“At the time I didn’t know [how I would work off the charges], but I guess it was the acts that I performed,” the informant said. “... I was going to do it to cover my, to cover me, so to speak.”

The lead agent testified Tuesday afternoon that the CI contacted the DTF on July 9 after Baker reached out to him about purchasing marijuana.

“On July 9 approximately 2200 hours, about 10 p.m., [an agent] who also works for the task force was contacted by a confidential informant ... who advised that a target we had been looking at in reference to an investigation of marijuana sales had contacted him in reference to setting up a purchase of marijuana,” the lead agent testified.

The purchase was set up and agents met with and searched the two informants and their vehicle prior to the two men traveling to Baker’s Fite Street residence, the agent said.

Although the informant was equipped with a listening device and recorder, the agent later discovered the recording was compromised by feedback.

The informant said he bought a $60 baggie of marijuana from Baker and left. According to the agent’s testimony, the informants were at the Fite Street residence a total of four minutes and no narcotics beyond the specified purchase were located in a search afterward.

On July 25, Baker was among those arrested in a “sweep” tied to the DTF investigations.

The informant said Baker confronted him July 26 at the Cartersville Country Club driving range about his role in Baker’s arrest.

According to testimony, Baker threatened to kill the informant. Baker later turned himself in to the Bartow County Jail on terroristic threat charges.

The jury about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday returned a guilty verdict on two counts of sale of marijuana and not guilty on four counts of terroristic threats. Nelson on Tuesday issued directed verdicts of not guilty on one count each of illegal substances within 1,000 feet of a part and influencing a witness.

A pre-sentence investigation was ordered with a tentative sentencing date of Tuesday, May 27, at 9 a.m.

Shoplifting pleas heard Tuesday

Two superior court judges on Tuesday accepted pleas in theft by shoplifting cases.

In Judge Suzanne Smith’s court:

• Benny Eugene Abernathy entered guilty pleas to charges of theft by shoplifting and criminal trespass. He was sentenced to 24 months probation, with the requirement that Abernathy be banished from all Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores, pay court-appointed attorney fees in the amount of $250 and a fine of $1,000, and the additional surcharges.

• Natalie Jill Davis pled guilty to theft by shoplifting, receiving a total sentence of 12 months on probation. Davis also will be banished from all Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores, pay court-appointed attorney fees in the amount of $250 and a fine of $500 and additional surcharges.

Before Superior Court Judge Shepherd Howell:

• Tina Marie Wilson, aka Tina Marie Stephens, entered guilty pleas to charges of possession of a schedule IV controlled substance; drugs not in original container; possession of marijuana; theft by shoplifting; and simple battery. She was sentenced to five years and must complete the Residential Substance Abuse Therapy Program, a program with incarceration ranging from eight to 16 months. The remainder of Wilson’s sentence will be served on probation, requiring Wilson to pay court-appointed attorney fees in the amount of $550 and a fine of $2,000 and all additional surcharges, along with her banishment from all Dollar General Stores.

• Fadrick Alonzo Grissom pled guilty to theft by shoplifting at Kohl’s on April 30. He was sentenced to serve 12 months incarcerated.