New system for drug trials to start in St. John

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Seven LaPlace men, arrested in a significant drug raid that led to the confiscation of cocaine valued at nearly $30,000, have been scheduled for trial on May 25 in Edgard.

The case is the first to come up for trial under a new system devised by Sheriff Wayne L. Jones and District Attorney John Crum, that ensures repeat offenders go to trial and that they do so in a timely manner.

The case appearing before Judge Mary Hotard Becnel in the St. John the Baptist Parish Courthouse involves seven men, who were arrested on Aug. 26, 2004, during a drug raid conducted by the Bureau of Narcotics.

Responding to an anonymous tip, eight narcotics agents arrived at a pink mobile home located on Sylvan Lane in LaPlace.

When narcotics officers arrived at the trailer, several men inside the trailer jumped through windows and ran out of the front door. Agents found some individuals hiding in closets. However, authorities rounded up all persons involved and everyone was arrested.

Arrested were: Terrance Davis, Andrew Anderson, Ephraim Williams and Damion Davis of 342 W. Second St.; Allen Snyder of 526 Janice Lane; Hayward Wilson of 216 Fir St.; and Rance Scott, of 604 Bluebird.

On the same day as their arrests, all seven men were charged with possessing 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams, of cocaine and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, according to court records.

Previous and pending charges on those arrested are:

€ T. Davis has one arrest and no conviction. At the time of his arrest he was free on bond from a May 29, 2004 arrest for the distribution of marijuana.

€ Anderson has 11 arrests and one conviction. His record includes illegally carrying a weapon and two charges each of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana.

€ Williams has 15 arrests and one conviction. His record includes three charges of marijuana possession, two charges for distributing marijuana, resisting an officer, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and distributing crack cocaine. Williams violated probation in 1997 and was charged with manufacturing and distributing crack in 1999. In 2003, he was charged with possession with the intent to manufacture and distribute alphamethadol. At the time of his arrest, Williams had cases pending against him.

€ D. Davis has three arrests and no convictions. His record includes possession with intent to distribute cocaine, two charges of possessing marijuana, a charge of distributing marijuana and gambling.

€ Snyder has 14 arrests and no convictions. His record includes two charges each of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, disarming a police officer, battery on a police officer, several charges for resisting arrest by flight and aggravated burglary.

€ Wilson has eight arrests and no convictions. His record includes, aggravated assault, domestic violence, two charges for simple battery and several bench warrants.

€ Scott has a prior arrest for cocaine distribution and one conviction. At the time of his arrest, he was on a program associated with drug court.

The arrests of these habitual drug offenders prompted Sheriff Jones to call on the support of parish judges and the D.A.’s office in cases involving repeat offenders.

“I want the judges and the prosecutors to stand up to the plate with me to get these repeat offenders off the streets in St. John the Baptist Parish,” Jones said.

In a special meeting, held inside the sheriff’s office on Oct. 6, Jones said repeat offender cases would be collaborated between the sheriff, the D.A. and the judges. He said the three public offices would maintain constant communication throughout the year.

Public Information Officer Sgt. Dane Clement and Maj. David Lozano, Chief Investigator for the District Attorney’s Office were present when Jones made the announcement.

Clement said at the time, “It is imperative the Sheriff’s Office and the D.A.’s office continue to work together. It is the responsibility of the case officer to make sure the investigation is fully investigated and that the case presented to the D.A.’s office is strong enough to get a conviction – that is, to be successfully prosecuted. We hope upon conviction, we can get a good sentence.”

Jones said when future arrests involved repeat offenders, Clement would compile a case file and present it to Lozano ensuring a speedy, successful prosecution.

The first case compiled by Clement under the new system was the Aug. 26 drug raid.

Responding quickly, the D.A.’s office scheduled the case for trial on Feb. 17. The case was later rescheduled for May 25.

In September 2004, District Attorney John Crum was interviewed for a separate case, which also involved repeat offenders. At that time, Crum said his office could take two years to prosecute the case.

However, things have changed since then.

Under the new system, the D.A.’s office petitioned a Feb. 17 trial date for the August 2004 case. The date ensured a speedy trial, within six months.

Although the trial has been rescheduled to May 25, the court date still falls within eight months of the crime.

A spokesperson with the D.A.’s office said Friday, “We are really trying to make necessary improvements.”

She said the D.A. was prosecuting all seven men together in one case to ensure efficiency and to save the taxpayers money.