Texas judge tosses marijuana grow evidence after illegal entrance
A north Texas judge has granted a motion to suppress marijuana evidence in a court case after an officer illegally entered a building and found a grow room.
In April a Wise County Sheriff’s Deputy was trying to find a possible domestic disturbance and instead found himself inside a room of 521 marijuana plants.
Wise County Messenger reports that according to Sheriff Lane Akin, dispatchers received a 911 call around 4 p.m. Saturday, April 2, from a woman who said she was involved in a disturbance with her male partner. The caller hung up, and the dispatcher called her back and could hear her crying.
Because dispatchers had not yet been able to get an address, they “pinged” the cell phone to try to find an approximate location.
A deputy was sent to a home in the 300 block of Hidden Meadow Court near New Fairview in an attempt to find the woman. After knocking on the door, he heard a noise in a metal building on the property and went to investigate.
That is when Akin say’s “The door came open, and he saw hundreds of marijuana plants growing in a heavily lit area.”
The deputy then backed out and obtained a search warrant.
This led to the arrest of Ronald Gene Fergason, 42, who was charged with possession of marijuana 5 to 50 pounds, a third degree felony punishable by a minimum of two years in prison and a maximum of 10 years, with a $10,000 fine.
Attorney David Sloane, who represents Fergason, didn’t buy the deputy’s story about the door coming open and filed a motion to suppress all evidence.
Judge John Weeks didn’t seem to buy the story either and granted the motion, effectively rendering all evidence of the grow room inadmissible in court. It is expected that charges against Fergason will ultimately be dropped.
Sloane says that he is happy with the judge’s ruling on the matter and “hopes that it has a chilling effect on the Wise County Sheriffs Department’s willingness to just barge into peoples houses and other structures. The purpose of the rule is to deter law enforcement officers from conducting searches or seizures in violation of the Fourth Amendment and to provide remedies to defendants whose rights have been infringed.”
A well known attorney in north Texas, Sloane has specialized in defending those charged with marijuana crimes, and has a series of billboards around the area billing himself as The 420 Lawyer.
As for the original domestic disturbance call, Akin said officers did not locate the caller, and it was later determined that the call came from a home in Denton County.