Pubdate: Wed, 07 Feb 2007
Source: Winston-Salem Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2007 Piedmont Publishing Co. Inc.
Author: Titan Barksdale
Note: The Journal does not publish LTEs from writers outside its 
circulation area


He Served Nearly A Year On Drug Charges

The N.C. Court of Appeals dismissed two convictions of a Winston-Salem
man yesterday who has served nearly a year in prison on drug charges.

Isiah Davis, 54, had been serv-ing a 31/2-year prison sentence. A jury
found him guilty in February 2006 of two of three charges that he
faced. He was convicted of trafficking cocaine and possession with
intent to sell and deliver marijuana.

A charge of maintaining a dwelling for drug purposes was dismissed by
Judge Anderson Cromer of Superior Court. During the trial, Cromer also
denied a motion to dismiss all of the charges, allowing two to be
considered by the jury.

The appeals court, however, said that the motion to dismiss all
charges should have been granted because prosecutors "failed to do
more than create suspicion or conjecture" that (Davis) was guilty.

Cromer dismissed the charge of maintaining a dwelling for drug
purposes, said Davis' attorney, Clark Fischer. He added that he
"strongly argued" against presenting the remaining two charges to the

"The jury ruled against us ... and we have the court of appeals as a
safeguard," Fischer said. "I think that clearly the (judges) made the
right decision."

The case dates to October 2002, when Winston-Salem police officers
working in the Hap-py Hill community searched an apartment on
Baltimore Street where Davis was found inside. Police said they also
found 40 grams of crack cocaine and 70 grams of marijuana in a freezer
and un-der a refrigerator.

Davis told police that the apartment was not his permanent home, and
he provided a driver's license showing a different address. He also
denied know-ing about the drugs, though he told police that "drug
boys" had been at the apartment before the search, the court of
appeals opinion said.

Fischer said that Davis was in the apartment because his girlfriend
lived there.

No evidence was presented at trial that showed that police found any
drugs on Davis, and police testified that they did not see him touch
any of the drugs. The evidence presented by prosecutors failed to show
that Davis had control over the drugs, the opinion said.

"There was no evidence presented showing that defendant ever had
touched any of the seized items or moved toward the seized items,"
Judge Barbara Jackson of the N.C. Court of Appeals said in the ruling.
"The officers only saw (Davis) standing in the kitchen prior to his
lying down once the officers entered with their guns drawn."

Brian Chapuran, who has left the district attorney's office,
pro-secuted the case, which was based on a legal strategy called
"constructive possession."

Generally, such cases center on drugs found in a car or house occupied
by the defendant, but there is no evidence of drugs on the defendant's
body or clothing.

Prosecutors try to prove that even though there is no evidence that
someone had physical contact with drugs, they are still implicated in
a drug crime because they were at a place where drugs were found.

Fischer said that cases of constructive possession are of-ten tried in
court, but it is not known how many convictions in those cases are
dismissed at the appellate level.

Davis had been convicted of drug possession in 1985. His rec-ord shows
no other convictions, according to the N.C. Department of Correction's
Web site.

Yesterday afternoon, the Web site showed that Davis had been moved in
September from Charlotte to the Forsyth Correctional Center.

"Hopefully he will be home in a few days," Fischer said.
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