A Bronx man busted with five bricks of heroin is taking the case to trial.
Staling Santos-Reyes, 40, is charged with first-degree felonious possession of drugs and fifth-degree possession of criminal tools after he was caught with more than eight pounds of drugs on Interstate 70 following a traffic stop.
The legality of that stop was brought into question during a suppression hearing in Madison County Common Pleas Court Wednesday.
Jesse Stacy, Santos-Reyes’ defense counsel, argued that Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Timothy Williamson had no cause to pull the defendant over.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Timothy Williamson testified that he was stationed on I-70 E and observed several “items of interest” as Santos-Reyes drove by, such as being unusually low in the car and shielding his face from the trooper as he passed.
Williamson stated that he then pulled out behind Santos-Reyes and saw him make several marked lanes violations before ultimately pulling him over.
Stacy argued that none of the “items of interest” Williamson described were illegal and called into question whether the trooper witnessed as many violations as he claimed, pointing out that dash cam video footage shows a car behind Santos-Reyes blocked the trooper’s view at several key moments.
Assistant county prosecutor argued that the stop was indeed constitutional and the trooper had probable cause.
In the end, Judge Eamon Costello overturned the motion to suppress, saying the trooper had every right to pull the vehicle over after the marked lanes violations.
If the stop had been found to be unconstitutional, any evidence gathered during it — namely the drugs — would be tossed out.
Before the suppression hearing, assistant county prosecutor Nick Adkins made it known that he had offered Santos-Reyes a plea deal — if he pleaded guilty to the drug possession charge, the state would drop the second charge and would recommend nine years behind bars.
Santos-Reyes rejected the offer, which the state has since taken off the table.
The matter is scheduled to go a jury trial May 2.
If Santos-Reyes is found guilty, he faces up to 12 years behind bars and a fine up to $40,000.
Also in court Wednesday:
• Leanna Brooks, 29, of Bellefontaine, was sentenced to 30 days in jail, ordered to pay $700 in restitution and put on two years of community control.
A former Bluebird Retirement Community employee, Brooks stole about $700 from an elderly couple in her care.
Brooks told the court that she had been behind on bills and deeply regretted taking the cash.
The victims’ daughter read a letter she composed with her parents, stating that they had trusted Brooks and were “hurt” and “confused” by her actions.
According to the daughter, Bluebird credited the stolen money to the victims, putting the sum towards their rent. Brooks is now required to reimburse the retirement community.
• Kohl Krick, 22, of Ashville, pleaded guilty to possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony, and failure to appear, a fourth-degree felony.
Krick is in custody at Tri-County Regional Jail with bond set at $7,500.
He will appear in court again for sentencing May 19 and faces up to two and a half years behind bars and a fine up to $7,500.
• Jonathan Morris, 44, of West Jefferson, appeared for his formal pretrial hearing.
Morris faces felony charges of aggravated possession of drugs and improperly handling a firearm.
A motion for an intervention in lieu of conviction was overruled by Costello, citing Morris’ criminal history as a legal barrier.
Morris claims that the prior convictions were not in fact him but rather his brother, who knows Morris’ date of birth and social security number.
Morris will be fingerprinted. BCI will compare the prints to those connected with the three prior convictions.
Shannon Treynor, Morris’ attorney, told the court she anticipates the process will take no longer than 30 days.
• Jennifer Parfitt, 32, of London, was sentenced to eight months in prison.
Parfitt pleaded guilty to permitting drug use and possession of drugs, both fifth-degree felonies, last month.
During the proceedings, Parfitt stated she’s deeply in the throws of addiction. Her attorney, Dale Frenz, requested that the court construct a sentence that may help Parfitt overcome her addiction, pointing out that she has a degenerative disease and chronic pain in addition to personal tragedies, all of which contribute to her drug use.
Costello urged Parfitt to turn things around, telling her that if things don’t change “this story ends with you going back to prison or getting buried. There are no other endings.”
Reach Erin Thompson at 740-837-4502.