Split verdict in pot cultivation, possession case
A Nevada County Superior Court jury returned a split verdict Wednesday in a marijuana cultivation and sale case involving a South County couple.
After a week-long trial, Nancy and Craig Krekorian were each found guilty on felony charges of possession of marijuana for sale; the couple was found not guilty on felony charges of cultivating marijuana.
The couple is scheduled to appear in court for sentencing on Nov. 11; Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell said the felony charges could result in a punishment ranging from probation to up to three years in jail.
Nevada County narcotics detectives had served a search warrant at the Krekorian’s Blue Heron Way residence on July 17, 2014, after spotting the couple’s marijuana grow during an overflight. Sheriff’s deputies testified that they found 144 marijuana plants in various stages of growth, along with five medical marijuana recommendations.
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Oliver Pong argued that the jury should rely on the tape-recorded interviews made at the time of the search, rather than on evidence presented at the trial by defense attorney Jennifer Granger showing that the Krekorians were part of a medical collective that subsequently destroyed its records.
After the couple’s arrest, Craig Krekorian, who is disabled and who is on Social Security, reportedly told Det. John Dzioba they would deliver their excess marijuana to a Southern California dispensary and would be paid about $2,000 a pound; he estimated they made about $100,000 to $200,000 a year, and said he knew selling it was illegal but that the couple needed to supplement their income.
Nancy Krekorian reportedly told Det. Mark Hollitz she sold marijuana to pay her bills, and said she made about $25,000 in 2014, and had spent $15,000 for supplies.
She reportedly told Hollitz she didn’t know what a collective was, and she didn’t know the names of the buyers.
Granger called the split verdict “inconsistent” and “puzzling,” and said she believes the jury may have been confused about how the medical marijuana defense applied to the case.
Newell, however, commended Pong for “shooting holes” in the defense arguments, and highlighting that the couple didn’t have the appropriate records to demonstrate an affiliation with a medicinal marijuana collective.
“I think it’s a good win for the office, and for law enforcement in general, that the jurors didn’t buy that (collective) argument that they just came up with at the last minute when there was no real indication early on in the case that that indeed was what was going on,” Newell said.
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