Pubdate: Mon, 12 Apr 2010
Source: Sampson Independent, The (NC)
Copyright: 2010, The Sampson Independent
Author: Doug Clark
Cited: District Attorney Dewey Hudson


District Attorney Dewey Hudson reported Friday that the charges 
against six Willie Nelson band members are still pending and have not 
been dismissed.

"I have been inundated with letters and people asking me about the 
situation with Willie Nelson that involved his band, so I have 
decided to give an update today," Hudson said during a press 
conference he called Friday at the Duplin County Courthouse. "Our 
office has received the initial investigative report and we have 
spoken with people in ALE (Alcohol Law Enforcement) about the charges 
against the band members."

The Willie Nelson show scheduled for Jan. 28 at the Duplin County 
Events Center in Kenansville was cancelled after the six members, in 
two tour buses outside the Events Center, were issued citations for 
either possession of marijuana or possession of non-tax-paid alcohol.

Those members were Thomas Ray Hawkins, Dudley Prewitt, Kenneth 
Koepke, Aaron Foye, Dan Spears, and Robert Lemons. Hawkins, Prewitt 
and Koepke, were each charged with possession of one-half ounce of 
marijuana and possession of non-tax paid alcohol . Foye, Spears and 
Lemons were cited with possession of non-tax-paid alcohol.

The official statement to fans from the Nelson camp was that the show 
was cancelled because Nelson recently had a carpal tunnel operation 
and was in "too much pain" to play his guitar.

However, the band members were arrested by no less than 14 ALE agents 
that night, which could lead to the assumption that the band, as well 
as Nelson, a strong proponent of marijuana use, was unfairly 
targeted. Hudson noted that the country superstar was not even at the 
Events Center at the time of the 6:40 p.m. arrests

"I asked if they were (targeting), and the (ALE) supervisor in 
Wilmington explained to me why they had so many agents here," he 
said, noting other incidents involving alcohol and drugs and a 
wedding which ended in a brawl between guests.

The ALE supervisor, Hudson said, told him 14 agents were send down 
that night, "not to bust Willie Nelson, but for public safety. There 
were a lot of things they would have preferred to use their people 
for but the chief has asked him to do that. He assured me that they 
did not have that intent."

In fact, Hudson said that a "selective prosecution" charge has been 
raised by the defense.

"That issue has been raised," he said. "But it is not against the law 
to do that. What is against the law if you 'selectively prosecute' 
one person and turn your head to other people. That is the issue that 
has been raised by the defense. Whether there is any merit to it, I 
don't know. But we will look at it."

However, Hudson said everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

"Although the members of the band have been charged, it is my duty as 
the district attorney to assure you that they are all presumed 
innocent until a court of law determines otherwise," Hudson said. 
"But our laws apply to everyone ... and I can assure the public that 
after reviewing the facts, and the evidence and laws in this case, 
that we will make the decision based on that. Some people are saying 
that we should let them go ... but if I let the Willie Nelson band 
go, then how do I enforce the laws against other people who are not 
members of a famous band? The laws have to be applied to everyone 
equally and I can assure the public that they will be in this case."

Hudson said that his office was awaiting tests results from the ALE.

"We are presently awaiting the drug analysis," he said. "We want to 
make sure what the ALE contends is marijuana is, in fact, marijuana. 
We are also continuing to comply with the discovery requests made by 
the attorney who represents the band (Doug Parsons of Clinton). I 
have spoken to him on numerous occasions and have tried to comply 
with his requests for discovery."

Depending on those results, more charges could follow.

"Depending on what it is, there could be more serious charges coming."

Hudson said he wanted to give an update to the public because of the 
sheer amount of complaints his office has received.

"I have received numerous complaints and letters from disappointed 
fans of Willie Nelson," said Hudson. "And I know that there has been 
at least one song written about the situation."

The song he referenced is a obvious nod to Sen. Charlie Albertson's 
"Leave the Man Alone" , written just after the incident and 
encouraging law enforcement to leave Nelson alone.

"I understand the disappointment to all of those fans," said Hudson. 
"In fact, I was at the Willie Nelson concert that night and contrary 
to some of the blogs I have read, I was not there in an official 
capacity. I was there as a paying fan myself, to support Willie 
Nelson's music, and more importantly, to support our community. My 
wife and I stood out in the cold for about 30 minutes before the show 
too, so I was just as disappointed as everyone else that the concert 
was cancelled."

The Duplin County concert date has not been rescheduled.
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