Judge denies dismissal of OxyContin case

Juneau man claimed police had searched him illegally

Posted: Friday, June 12, 2009

A Juneau man failed Thursday to convince a judge to dismiss his OxyContin-related drug charge on the grounds that police had searched him illegally.

Dillinger Graham, 27, is one of three people arrested at a March 19 sting at the Travelodge hotel across from Juneau International Airport. He's facing charges of fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance - a felony.

In Juneau Superior Court, police played an audio recording of the sting in which police informant DB10 allegedly sold $1,000 worth of Oxycontin pills to Loretta "Jean" McCutcheon, 25. Randal Benc, 23, her boyfriend, was with her at the time.

Prosecutors said the pills were for Graham, who was waiting in the car outside the hotel. While McCutcheon was being arrested, police handcuffed Graham to detain him - not to arrest him.

Police investigators described in court how they patted down Graham and found a small box that turned out to be a pill-cutter with half an OxyContin pill in it, brass knuckles, and three small baggies with a white crystal substance that turned out to be methamphetamine.

The investigators said they were looking for weapons and just happened to find the drugs along the way. But once they found drugs, they had probable cause to arrest him on a drug charge.

Graham told police he planned to trade the meth for pills.

Graham's lawyer, public defender Kevin Higgins, argued police didn't have enough reason to believe Graham might have a weapon. They shouldn't have searched him, and the evidence from such an illegal search couldn't be used against him.

But prosecutor Jack Schmidt argued police had plenty of reason to think Graham might have a weapon and search him for their own safety.

The judge sided with prosecutors, denying Graham's motion to dismiss the case.

McCutcheon made a deal with prosecutors in April to plead guilty to misconduct involving a controlled substance, in exchange for a lighter sentence. Benc pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of aiding McCutcheon.

• Contact reporter Kate Golden at 523-2276 or kate.golden@juneauempire.com.

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