We at Chicken-Fried News love a good jury trial. In fact, we fast-forward through police work on Law & Order and only watch the courtroom scenes. They’re so much more fascinating!
Earlier this month, when The Friendly Market owner Robert Cox and manager Stephen Tyler Holman — who serves on the Norman City Council — stood trial on drug paraphernalia charges, we couldn’t wait to refresh our social media feeds to find the most recent news updates. We were never disappointed.
On day 1, Cleveland County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Crowe told jurors that Holman abused his influence as an elected leader to persuade police to ignore the drug paraphernalia allegedly sold at The Friendly Market, NewsOK reported.
Attorneys for Holman and Cox responded. They told jurors that police and prosecutors abused their power when they raided the Norman business and charged the defendants with acquiring proceeds from drug activity (a felony) and 12 counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.
As the trial continued, glass pipe after glass pipe were introduced as exhibits. NewsOK.com reported that Detective Dakota Cook testified one of the tall glass pipes was definitely, by all means, inarguably and obviously designed to smoke marijuana, even calling the device a “bong.”
Known locally as Glass Guru, Norman police detective Rick Newell testified he met with Cox back in 2015 to discuss state law on glass pipes before the raids. During cross-examination, Newell testified that pipes seized from The Friendly Market could be used to smoke legal tobacco.
(Here’s where we fast-forward a bit.) After a six-day trial, jurors returned “not guilty” verdicts after five hours of deliberations. During those deliberations, juror discussion centered on how drugs can be smoked “out of just about anything,” according to NewsOK.com.
“I’m concerned that the way Norman is enforcing the statute right now that any material can be drug paraphernalia,” juror Melissa Costello told The Oklahoman. “I don’t want to go to jail because I have an empty Coke can. We just felt like the prosecution never proved beyond a reasonable doubt that those items were meant to be used as drug paraphernalia.”
Before the ending credits role, let’s hear from Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn.
“If anyone were to open up a shop that the statute does not allow,” Washburn said, “I wouldn’t hesitate to prosecute it and we will just go forward.”
To be continued.
Dun, dun …