A Juneau man accused of selling cocaine and OxyContin to an undercover law enforcement officer was found guilty by a jury in front of Judge Philip Pallenberg in Juneau Superior Court on Wednesday.
John White, 38, was found guilty on three counts of third-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance (MICS), a class B felony, and one count of second-degree MICS, a class A felony. A class B felony carries a maximum of 10 years and $100,000 fine and a class A carries a maximum of 20 and $250,000.
Sentencing is set for April 14. A no-contact order between White and girlfriend Priscilla Barr, 33, was stricken. Barr was sentenced on Monday to seven years in prison, with four suspended, after reaching an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to attempted second-degree MICS. Barr had faced two counts of MICS 2 and one count of MICS 3.
In court Wednesday, Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Christopher Russell resumed his testimony on the stand and was cross-examined by defense attorney Marcus Rogers. Russell said he was in an unmarked vehicle with an undercover officer from Southeast Alaska Cities Against Drugs (SEACAD) during a controlled buy and on the scene of a search warrant arrest.
Rogers made the point Russell never saw White deliver the drugs to an undercover officer and a confidential informant, but only witnessed Barr take a purple Crown Royal bag out of a black backpack in her possession and hand it to White.
Russell also testified two males and two females were in the residence where a search warrant was served. White was not one of the males and Barr was one of the females and possessed a number of OxyContin pills.
On redirect examination from Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp, Russell said Crown Royal bags are used as a means of drug transportation. With that, Kemp rested her case. Rogers did not call any witnesses and said his client would not take the stand.
In closing arguments, Kemp said the state proved White and Barr met the informant at the Imperial Bar on May 27, 2010, and accompanied him to the Glacier Cinema alcove where they made a transaction. Kemp explained the confidential informant was strip-searched beforehand to ensure he did not have any drugs before the buy. She also pointed out the buy was constantly surveilled and said Barr passed the drugs to White.
Kemp said a June 8 audio recording revealed a discussion between White and the undercover agents about the price of drugs. She said White also delivered cocaine to the agents at that time.
Kemp showed on June 9, the undercover officer went to the residence and discussed prices with White.
“He was heavily involved,” Kemp said. “He negotiated the prices.”
Kemp compared White and Barr to the historic crime team of Bonnie and Clyde, as both were doing pieces of the offenses.
Rogers closed by saying “Priscilla Barr was a drug dealer and Mr. White was dating Miss Barr. Mr. White was not a drug dealer.” He then attacked the credibility of the informant, saying the informant turned to helping law agencies after being found with cocaine not, as he previously stated, “that someone was selling to his son.”
Rogers also said that, in the cinema alcove, White and the informant could have been talking about anything, including the “local hire” job promised to White as part of the undercover ruse.
Rogers became emotional describing the struggling White trying to better his life with a drug-dealing girlfriend he loved and a fictional job offered by an undercover officer.
Kemp countered the state wants the jury to be clear White acted intentionally, that he didn’t have to lift Barr’s arm when she handed over drugs, and that the term “drug dealer” does not have to be defined.
“It doesn’t pass the laugh test,” Kemp said. “You can’t look at the evidence and say Mr. White was not involved.”
The jury deliberated for a bit more than two hours. Attorneys from both sides were called back into court to address a jury question concerning active and constructive delivery, intent, and possession. However, as Pallenberg, Kemp, and Rogers discussed the issue the jury announced they had reached a decision.
• Contact Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or firstname.lastname@example.org