Case involving drugs hidden in block of wood to move forward
A Nevada County Superior Court judge — despite noting some discrepancies in testimony — found sufficient evidence to hold a Rough and Ready man to answer on a number of drug charges relating to a case where a Sheriff’s deputy found heroin and methamphetamine hidden in a hollowed-out block of wood.
Nevada County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Lampe testified during a preliminary hearing Thursday that he stopped Marc Silva, 46, at about 4 a.m. on Feb. 14 after seeing his truck parked in the middle of the road, in front of a driveway near Granholm Lane and Gold Flat Road. Lampe said he approached the truck and saw the handles of several knives, and also saw that one of the passengers had a bandanna pulled up to cover part of his face.
Silva told him he was delivering food to a friend, Lampe said. He testified that there was one “store-bought” burrito found in the truck, then later amended his testimony to say there might have been two burritos.
Lampe testified that he asked Silva for consent to search the truck, and Silva initially asked him what would happen if he said no. According to Lampe, Silva consented after he was told that a legal reason to search could be found.
Silva had several pocket knives on his person, but no contraband, Lampe said.
One of the passengers, Marcus James Brewer, had a BB gun, and passenger Thomas Bailes had some meth, according to Lampe. A female passenger, Shaneen Moore, reportedly was found with syringes.
A search of the interior of the truck revealed meth and a scale, a bottle of amphetamine in a backpack, as well as several knives, a crossbow and what was initially described as a club. On cross-examination, Lampe agreed that it resembled a small novelty baseball bat.
Lampe testified that he found a piece of lumber in the bed of the truck with two counter-sunk Allen bolts, which he opened to find 6.7 grams of heroin, a little more than 8 grams of meth and a scale.
Silva said someone else had put the block of wood in his truck, Lampe said, testifying that he found the piece of wood under other items that included bags of trash and bags of clothes.
On cross-examination by defense attorney Jennifer Walters, Lampe testified that he did not question Silva or any of his passengers about the block of wood.
He also testified that he believed the amounts of controlled substances were for sales, rather than personal use, although indicia such as packaging or pay-owe sheets was not found. Walters had one witness — Bailes — refuse to testify on grounds that he might incriminate himself.
A second witness, Trent Barnard, testified that he was working at a local gas station that morning and saw Silva in his truck with several people. Barnard testified that he saw Bailes arrive, carrying a piece of wood, which he tossed into the back of the truck along with a backpack.
Walters argued there was “absolutely no evidence” that Silva knew about the contents of the wood log, or even that it had a hidden compartment. Deputy District Attorney Oliver Pong, however, said the testimony was contradictor and that Silva’s account of delivering food to a friend made “no sense at all.”
Judge Tom Anderson said there were discrepancies regarding the location of the hollowed-out piece of wood in the truck, but said it would be up to a jury to determine. He held Silva to answer on sale or transportation of a controlled substance, possession for sale, and possession of heroin, as well as three counts relating to meth — possession for sale, sale and transportation. He did not hold him to answer on misdemeanor charges of possessing drug paraphernalia and possessing a billy club.
He is set for formal arraignment Nov. 24. Felony charges of possessing marijuana for sale from an earlier case were dismissed, leaving three misdemeanor counts that will trail this case.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, e-mail email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
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