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Expert testimony heard in heroin distribution trial

Posted: July 28, 2011 - 9:46pm  |  Updated: July 29, 2011 - 8:03am

Prosecutors called an informant and two expert witnesses before Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg on Thursday in the trial of a Juneau man arrested for allegedly selling heroin.

Jose Perez, 36, is facing one count of misconduct involving a controlled substance in the second degree, a class ‘A’ felony, and two counts of interference with official proceedings, class ‘B’ felonies. The interference charges stem from Perez’ alleged jailhouse assault on a witness against him.

Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp called an informant involved in the alleged drug transaction to the witness stand. The informant said Perez frequented a trailer in Switzer Park that was a place the informant had used drugs and saw others use drugs.

The informant had stated previously in a police interview that Perez didn’t seem angry in prison with him. That informant was allegedly assaulted in Lemon Creek Correctional Center by Perez. In taped conversations the informant said he had been using drugs for 10 years, but in testimony he said he’d been using since 2005.

When defense attorney Kevin Higgins challenged his statements and asked why his memory was clearer on certain time lines, the informant said, “Looking back, it was more clear now in black and white.”

Higgins discussed the informant’s drug history and charges resulting from this case and for testifying.

Kemp asked the informant if he regretted his agreeing to testify and he replied, “Absolutely” and said the aftermath of the arrests have far outweighed any plea arrangements with the state.

Kemp next called forensic scientist Jack Hurd as an expert witness. Hurd is employed by the Scientific Detection Crime Laboratory in Anchorage and testified about the evidence the Juneau Police Department confiscated in the case. He described it as being an opiate and “a parent of heroin.”

Under cross-examination by Higgins, Hurd said the container the opiates had been found in had not been dusted for fingerprints to his knowledge.

The state also called JPD Officer James Quinto. Quinto has 14 years of service to the JPD, the last five of which are on the Metro Drug Unit. Quinto testified to the handling of confidential informants in the case and described slang terms for drugs such as methamphetamine and heroin as Brown, Tar, Twiz, Bags, and ICE.

Quinto described following the informant on the case involving Perez and discovering a firearm by the couch in a trailer in Switzer Park after officers used a warrant to enter it.

The informant said that trailer was Perez’ residence.

Under cross-examination, Quinto said he had two weeks of Drug Enforcement Agency training in Washington state and on the job training. Quinto described his role in the mission that resulted in the arrest of Perez.

The plan had originally been for the informant to work with a dealer in the Thunder Mountain area, but that was changed when the dealer arrived with none and drove the informant to the trailer in Switzer Park. Quinto said the surveillance team did not hear what happened in the trailer because the informant remained in the vehicle and then the team temporarily lost sight of the informant when they drove out of Switzer Park via a different exit.

Higgins will resume cross-examination of Quinto today.

Perez was arrested Jan. 5 after allegedly completing a sale of heroin with another dealer and an informant.

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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