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Jury Deliberating Snowden Marijuana Case

Jurors in a Baltimore City Circuit Court spent more than an hour deliberating whether the chair of Annapolis' Housing Authority is guilty of marijuana possession.

A Baltimore City Circuit Court jury is deciding whether Carl Snowden, chairman of the Housing Authority of the city of Annapolis, is guilty of misdemeanor marijuana possession.

The jury deliberated for more than an hour on Monday, but was unable to reach a verdict.

Police arrested Snowden and his co-defendant Anthony Hill near Druid Hill Park in Baltimore on April 19 after officers discovered a cigar containing marijuana in the center cup holder of Snowden's 2010 Honda Pilot.

The case hinges on whether jurors believe Snowden was using the marijuana. Snowden maintains that the cigar belonged to Hill, who pleaded guilty to possession in June.

"Just because Mr. Hill is saying it's my marijuana doesn't mean Mr. Snowden didn't also possess it," said Assistant State’s Attorney Deniece Robinson. "The defendant was enjoying that marijuana just as much as Mr. Hill was."

Robinson called three witnesses for the prosecution, including Detective Sherrod Biggers and Detective Vaughn Diggs. Both men testified that they were on patrol in an unmarked vehicle when Biggers smelled "burnt marijuana" emanating from Snowden's sport utility vehicle.

The officers found Snowden in the driver's seat and Hill in the passenger seat. Biggers said he "immediately saw" a cigar in the center cup holder that he believed contained marijuana.

Hill is a convicted sex offender, who was on probation at the time of his arrest. He has a record of multiple arrests for drug, gun and assault charges but few convictions, according to online court records.

Despite objections from the defense, Biggers also testified that Hill was not wearing a shirt or shoes.

"He just had on like basketball shorts," Biggers said.

Biggers testified that he found Hill's jeans, shirt, socks and shoes in the backseat when he searched the vehicle.

The officers found no drugs on Snowden, but Biggers found a bag containing marijuana in the front pocket of Hill's shorts. Diggs said Snowden asked not to be arrested.

"I asked him how come," Diggs said. "He said because of his job."

In addition to his position with the housing authority, Snowden was the civil rights director for the Maryland Attorney General’s Office until April when he took a leave of absence to pursue a $20 million lawsuit against Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold.

In March, Leopold was indicted on charges that he used his security detail improperly to compile files on people—including Snowden.

Snowden opted not to testify, but his attorney read a portion of the transcript from Hill's hearing in June to the jury. The transcript stated that Hill took responsibility for the marijuana and "it belonged to him and not the driver of the vehicle."

The prosecution rested its case on the idea that Snowden and Hill could both be in possession of the same marijuana because more than one person can smoke it.

Robinson emphasized Judge Michael Reed's jury instructions, which stated that a defendant could be guilty of possession if there was "any indication that the defendant was participating in the use or mutual enjoyment of the substance."

She argued that Snowden could not only smell the marijuana from his seat next to Hill, but he also likely had "a contact high." Robinson asked jurors to remember Hill's guilty plea only stated that the marijuana belonged him.

"Hill never said [Snowden] didn't touch it," Robinson said. "We all know what was happening in that car."

Simms focused his closing arguments on the idea that police were unable to prove that Snowden had touched or consumed any of the marijuana.

He repeatedly mentioned that Snowden had not been asked to take a drug test nor had police obtained any fingerprints or DNA evidence from the marijuana that would prove Snowden used it.

He said jurors should not "fill in the blanks" about what transpired in the SUV.

"I submit to you that this case has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt," Simms said. "You have to speculate with regard to use; you have to speculate with regard to sharing."

The jury will resume deliberations at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Wes Day November 20, 2012 at 10:06 AM
This ridiculous. If he had an unopened whiskey bottle, how would that be any different?
Malcolm Kyle November 20, 2012 at 10:17 AM
Prohibition has finally run its course: Our prisons are full, our economy is in ruins, the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans have been destroyed or severely disrupted, and what was once a shining beacon of liberty and prosperity has become a toxic, repressive, smoldering heap of hypocrisy and a gross affront to fundamental human decency. If you sincerely believe that prohibition is a dangerous and counter-productive policy then you can stop helping to enforce it. You are entitled—required even—to act according to your conscience! * It only takes one juror to prevent a guilty verdict. * You are not lawfully required to disclose your voting intention before taking your seat on a jury. * You are also not required to give a reason to the other jurors on your position when voting. Simply state that you find the accused not guilty! * Jurors must understand that it is their opinion, their vote. If the Judge and the other jurors disapprove, too bad. There is no punishment for having a dissenting opinion. “It is not only [the juror's] right, but his duty … to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” —John Adams Help create what we can no ill afford to wait for: PLEASE VOTE TO ACQUIT!
W. L. November 20, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Why was he in the car with a convicted drug user AND sex offender? The smell of Marijuana can't be missed. Shouldn't he have destroyed the cigar when he knew it was Marijuana? Shouldn't he have asked the user to get out of his car if he was using? If he wasn't using, wasn't he aiding the user? Why were they stopped by an unmarked car to begin with? Was he being followed for a reason? This is so strange. Just think what would you do if someone started smoking Marijuana in your car? If not guilty, he certainly has used poor judgement and a show of not being a responsible person.

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