Bowdon resident Benjamin Steve Jones, charged with possession or manufacturing marijuana and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, appeared in Carroll County Superior Court with his attorney, requesting a motion to suppress some evidence acquired by police.
On June 26, police arrived on Laura Circle in Bowdon after a helicopter search had identified a home on that street as having marijuana plants in a pasture behind the residence’s backyard.
Two officers started searching in the pasture, finding at least seven buckets of illegal plants. They then progressed through the wooded area behind the home and spoke to Jones and several other people “hanging out” on a trampoline, said Inv. Brandon Podaras of the Carrollton Police Department.
The officer testified that none of the people on the trampoline asked the two officers to vacate the premises, and that the conversation among them was “genuinely friendly.”
Jones’ lawyer, Carrollton attorney Allen Trapp, said that the initial entry of the officers was unlawful, citing case law on the Fourth Amendment, saying all evidence and testimony that derived from their presence should be inadmissible.
In her argument, Assistant District Attorney Anne Allen said everything included in the affidavit and search warrant, prepared and obtained by a third officer, was done so within the confines of the Fourth Amendment.
Simpson told the two parties that he would review the evidence and pertinent case law and give them an answer in the “next few days.”
“This sounds like business as usual for police, but our Constitution’s jurisprudence doesn’t allow it,” Trapp said. “Officers can’t go tramping around the curtilage of a property, just as they can’t go inside a home.”
Curtilage, Trapp said, is a legal term meaning the yards or grounds surrounding a particular address, and can include barns, sheds and recreational items like trampolines.
If the motion to suppress is approved, testimony from Jones, who freely admitted to the third officer, Ofc. Damon Morris, that he had marijuana on the property, as well as the several buckets of plants pulled from the property, would be ruled inadmissible.
Morris was set to prepare the warrant after Jones’ mother arrived at the home and was “agitated” at the police presence.
“She was getting so agitated that I became suspicious,” Morris said. “So at that time I placed Mr. Jones under arrest, secured the residence and started preparing the search warrant.”
Morris said that Jones was amiable before his mother arrived, being shocked at the police presence at first, but then opening up to him and admitting that he had the illegal substances.
Also in Simpson’s court Wednesday, Justin Ryan McDonald pleaded guilty to several charges in several cases, including arson in the third degree and possession of methamphetamine.
McDonald had a total of three cases on the court calendar, with charges of burglary, theft by receiving stolen property, arson, financial transaction card fraud and possession of a controlled substance.
The man was sentenced to serve three years in state prison, followed by seven years of probation.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Hunt said the man had admitted being put in possession of a stolen vehicle by his then-girlfriend, but denied setting it on fire.
As a factual basis for the card fraud charge, Hunt said another girlfriend had given McDonald her debit card to purchase gasoline, which he did. But he also allegedly bought other items with the card without permission.
Yet another girlfriend was with McDonald, Hunt said, when he was charged with possession of methamphetamine at the Temple Waffle House. Hunt said officers approached McDonald, who had a warrant out for his arrest, and found a Crown Royal bag next to him that contained some methamphetamine and pills.
McDonald was given credit back to July 20 toward his sentence.