Poison tree arguments tried again

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lawyers for a man and a woman charged in a drug case this week used arguments in Marshall County Circuit Court like those used in Sessions Court three weeks ago in an attempt to defeat a DUI charge.

Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons Judge Robert Crigler heard arguments in the cases of Holly Perryman, 25, and Marcus Canty, 38. Both were indicted by the Grand Jury in December on charges alleging possession with intent to sell and deliver a Schedule II drug, and with possession of a firearm in commission of a felony.

Perryman is represented by J. Daniel Freemon of the Freemon Law Firm, Lawrenceburg. Freemon, and Canty's attorney Bill Haywood of Lewisburg, argued that there was no probable cause to stop and search the car Perryman and Canty were riding in back to Lewisburg from Columbia. Haywood further argued that Canty was not read his Miranda rights for a second time when officers took his statement at the Marshall County Jail.

Lewisburg-based attorney Walter Bussart used similar arguments on behalf of his client, Mark Wilkerson who was charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant.

The argument is based on the legal principle that fruit of a poison tree (evidence obtained improperly) shouldn't be used.

This week, the court heard evidence from officers of the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force about how they used a confidential informant to set up a drug buy; followed Perryman, Canty, and another defendant, Lindsay Kellam, to Columbia and watched them make several stops. Finally the drug task force, along with the Maury County Sheriff's Department, stopped the car after it crossed the Marshall County line. The drug investigators said that when they searched the car they found almost seven grams of powder cocaine and a loaded Glock pistol. Some of the money marked for the buy was still in the possession of the car's passengers.

Crigler still had to listen to the tape of the confidential informant's conversations, and view the rest of the surveillance videos before issuing a written ruling, but he said that, in his opinion, the stop was valid, and that Canty's statement at the jail was valid even though he had not been read his Miranda rights at the jail. At the time of his arrest, Canty had been read the well-known warning that he had a right to remain silent.

Perryman's trial is set for May 4, and Crigler will hold a pre-trial conference at 9 a.m. on April 22. Canty's trial date was not set.