Pubdate: Fri, 20 Jun 2014
Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Copyright: 2014 Austin American-Statesman
Note: Letters MUST be 150 words or less
Author: Claire Osborn
Page: B1


Police Were Allowed in Apartment by Resident, Arrest Warrant Says

GEORGETOWN- The case against Jacob Lavoro, who could face a steep 
sentence for allegedly making and selling pot brownies, should be 
thrown out because police never had a warrant to search his 
apartment, his lawyer said Thursday as supporters rallied outside a 
court hearing at the Williamson County Justice Center.

Police were responding in April to a tip from a neighbor complaining 
about marijuana smoke coming from Lavoro's Round Rock apartment when 
they arrived at his door announcing they were maintenance men, said 
Jack Holmes, Lavoro's lawyer. Even after someone opened the apartment 
door, police had no evidence that there were illegal substances 
inside, but they entered anyway, Holmes said.

According to the arrest warrant, police asked for permission to enter 
the apartment and a girl who lived there let them in. Holmes argued 
in his brief that police did not have permission to enter, because a 
person who is submitting to authority is not providing valid consent.

Police found about 1.5 pounds of brownies made with hash oil, as well 
as a container of hash oil, a concentrated resin made from marijuana 
leaves. Lavoro, 19, was charged with a first-degree felony under a 
Texas law that allows authorities to use the entire weight of a 
mixture to determine the severity of a drug charge.

Holmes said he expects lab results - due in about two months - to 
show the brownies contained only about 7 grams of 
tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active chemical in marijuana. He 
filed a motion to dismiss the charges Thursday. It will be heard Aug. 6.

The case has drawn national attention because Lavoro could face a 
sentence of up to life in prison. But First Assistant Williamson 
County District Attorney Mark Brunner said Thursday that prosecutors 
don't want to put Lavoro in prison for life.

"That's not our intent," he said. He said prosecutors have offered to 
let Lavoro plea to a second-degree felony charge for the 145 grams of 
hash oil that police found in a separate container in the apartment. 
The punishment for a second-degree felony is two to 20 years in prison.

Lavoro would be eligible for deferred adjudication if he pleaded to a 
second-degree felony, which means that he wouldn't be convicted 
unless he violated the terms of his probation, Brunner said.

Holmes said that the plea deal wasn't accepted because he wants the 
case to be dismissed or go to trial.

Lavoro spoke softly to more than 100 people who had rallied in his 
support outside his court hearing Thursday. He said "it was pretty 
frightening" when he first learned the kind of punishment he could face.

"I threw up," he said. "I'm not a criminal; I'm just a kid."

His parents, Round Rock residents Joe and Jane Lavoro, said at the 
rally that they were both retired and had expected to spend their 
retirement traveling.

"Now I go to bed with tears in my eyes and wake up with tears in my 
eyes," said Jane Lavoro.

The Lavoros also thanked their supporters for the money raised on the 
Internet that help them pay to get Jacob Lavoro out of jail.
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