Jul 28, 2014

Jury Deliberating Snowden Marijuana Case

Jurors in a Baltimore City Circuit Court spent more than an hour deliberating whether the chair of Annapolis' Housing Authority is guilty of marijuana possession.

Jury Deliberating Snowden Marijuana Case

A Baltimore City Circuit Court jury is deciding whether Carl Snowden, chairman of the Housing Authority of the city of Annapolis, is guilty of misdemeanor marijuana possession.

The jury deliberated for more than an hour on Monday, but was unable to reach a verdict.

Police arrested Snowden and his co-defendant Anthony Hill near Druid Hill Park in Baltimore on April 19 after officers discovered a cigar containing marijuana in the center cup holder of Snowden's 2010 Honda Pilot.

The case hinges on whether jurors believe Snowden was using the marijuana. Snowden maintains that the cigar belonged to Hill, who pleaded guilty to possession in June.

"Just because Mr. Hill is saying it's my marijuana doesn't mean Mr. Snowden didn't also possess it," said Assistant State’s Attorney Deniece Robinson. "The defendant was enjoying that marijuana just as much as Mr. Hill was."

Robinson called three witnesses for the prosecution, including Detective Sherrod Biggers and Detective Vaughn Diggs. Both men testified that they were on patrol in an unmarked vehicle when Biggers smelled "burnt marijuana" emanating from Snowden's sport utility vehicle.

The officers found Snowden in the driver's seat and Hill in the passenger seat. Biggers said he "immediately saw" a cigar in the center cup holder that he believed contained marijuana.

Hill is a convicted sex offender, who was on probation at the time of his arrest. He has a record of multiple arrests for drug, gun and assault charges but few convictions, according to online court records.

Despite objections from the defense, Biggers also testified that Hill was not wearing a shirt or shoes.

"He just had on like basketball shorts," Biggers said.

Biggers testified that he found Hill's jeans, shirt, socks and shoes in the backseat when he searched the vehicle.

The officers found no drugs on Snowden, but Biggers found a bag containing marijuana in the front pocket of Hill's shorts. Diggs said Snowden asked not to be arrested.

"I asked him how come," Diggs said. "He said because of his job."

In addition to his position with the housing authority, Snowden was the civil rights director for the Maryland Attorney General’s Office until April when he took a leave of absence to pursue a $20 million lawsuit against Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold.

In March, Leopold was indicted on charges that he used his security detail improperly to compile files on people—including Snowden.

Snowden opted not to testify, but his attorney read a portion of the transcript from Hill's hearing in June to the jury. The transcript stated that Hill took responsibility for the marijuana and "it belonged to him and not the driver of the vehicle."

The prosecution rested its case on the idea that Snowden and Hill could both be in possession of the same marijuana because more than one person can smoke it.

Robinson emphasized Judge Michael Reed's jury instructions, which stated that a defendant could be guilty of possession if there was "any indication that the defendant was participating in the use or mutual enjoyment of the substance."

She argued that Snowden could not only smell the marijuana from his seat next to Hill, but he also likely had "a contact high." Robinson asked jurors to remember Hill's guilty plea only stated that the marijuana belonged him.

"Hill never said [Snowden] didn't touch it," Robinson said. "We all know what was happening in that car."

Simms focused his closing arguments on the idea that police were unable to prove that Snowden had touched or consumed any of the marijuana.

He repeatedly mentioned that Snowden had not been asked to take a drug test nor had police obtained any fingerprints or DNA evidence from the marijuana that would prove Snowden used it.

He said jurors should not "fill in the blanks" about what transpired in the SUV.

"I submit to you that this case has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt," Simms said. "You have to speculate with regard to use; you have to speculate with regard to sharing."

The jury will resume deliberations at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

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