Nevada County District Attorney’s release of Mackey documents prompts delay, request for dismissal in Kitchens case
December 16, 2016
A 2014 case involving drugs, weapons and child pornography charges was delayed again Friday, due to the release earlier this month of documents from a 2015 internal investigation by the Nevada County District Attorney's Office into narcotics detective Jason Mackey.
Defense attorneys Erica Treeby, who is representing Roland Blake Kitchens, and Maria Belyi, counsel for co-defendant Jennifer Blanche Nelsen, filed a blistering rebuke of the DA's Office for what they call its "brazen denial" that the material released constituted Brady — or exculpatory — information, and its "flagrant disregard" for the rights of defendants.
On Sept. 24, 2014, Kitchens and Nelsen were arrested after members of the Nevada County Narcotics Task Force executed a search warrant at their residence in the 10000 block of School Street in North San Juan — a warrant authored by Mackey.
Detectives reportedly located and seized 54 mature outdoor marijuana plants, 4 to 8 feet in height, approximately 5 pounds of processed marijuana cola, 40 grams of honey oil, several pounds of marijuana shake, a baggie of suspected hallucinogenic mushrooms, and honey oil manufacturing equipment, as well as 34 grams of methamphetamine and $6,848 in cash.
During the search, they reportedly also found a .45-caliber handgun and child pornography located on media devices.
Kitchens was charged with possession of a controlled substance with a firearm, possession of a controlled substance for sale, marijuana cultivation, child endangerment, and possessing child pornography.
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Nelsen has been charged with possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of a controlled substance while armed, and cultivation of marijuana.
Treeby and Belyi on Friday were scheduled to have a hearing to challenge the search warrant affidavit and dismiss the case, potentially with live testimony, on Friday in Nevada County Superior Court. But instead they requested a continuance based on the information they had received, and also filed a motion for Brady evidence and impose remedies.
"We are anxious to get this litigated," Treeby said. "But we also want to make sure we have all the information" that should be provided.
In the new motion filed Friday, Treeby detailed a series of requests for Brady material — evidence or information that would prove the innocence of the defendant or impeach the credibility of government witnesses — beginning in November 2014. According to Treeby, she was notified the following July by deputy District Attorney Oliver Pong that Mackey's personnel file might contain Brady material.
"In the 17 months since (then), defendants have been embroiled in an exhaustive battle to obtain all Brady information in the prosecution's possession," she wrote.
Treeby refers to some legal proceedings involving other attorneys in April 2016 regarding Mackey, complaining that she was not provided notice. She also points out that Brady information released on Dec. 2 to attorney Heather Burke was not provided to her office, despite her previous requests for such material.
"Given the prosecution's flagrant refusal to acknowledge its possession of Brady material, coupled with the belated disclosure of a June 2015 memorandum … defendants are left wondering what additional Brady information is in the possession of the prosecution and the Nevada County Sheriff's Office," Treeby wrote.
Treeby then asked the court to consider sanctions and urged the dismissal of the case.
"The District Attorney's brazen denial that the material constitutes Brady information (and) the belated disclosure … evidences the prosecution's flagrant disregard for the rights of defendants and demonstrates an utter disregard for due process," she wrote.
The hearing was rescheduled for Feb. 10.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.